Each year, Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) recognizes schools for their commitment and contribution to education and environmental initiatives through the Tim Walker Memorial Award.

This year we received several exceptional applications. Each applicant demonstrated a commitment to environmental stewardship and dedication to addressing concerns across our region, including climate change and food insecurity.

“The applications put forward this year are powerful examples of the ongoing work taking place across our schools to create learning environments where all students can excel to become skilled, caring and compassionate global citizens. Many showcased student interest in addressing issues within our greater community, such as food security,” says jeewan chanicka, director of education at WRDSB. “They affirm the importance of offering opportunities in our schools for teachers to be innovative and to engage students in non-traditional learning opportunities.”

After careful review, our evaluation committee identified four standout projects to honour with this year’s award:

Lincoln Heights Public School – Vegetable and Butterfly Garden

  • The fruit and vegetable garden at Lincoln Heights Public School intends to create a sustainable and educative space to inspire students to become stewards of the environment and health-conscious individuals.
  • The projects involve creating raised beds for planting fruit, vegetables, and pollinator plants, installing drip irrigation systems and composting.
  • This project supports students learning through engagement, with students learning about plant growth, food production, soil science and environmental stewardship.
  • The garden will also benefit the school and community by providing fresh produce for the school lunch program, students, families and the local food banks.

Rockway Public School – Rockway Edible Food Forest Initiative

  • Rockway Public School aims to create a biodiverse ecosystem by planting edible plants, including fruit-bearing trees, shrubs, herbs, vines, and roots.
  • The project will address issues of food insecurity by utilizing permaculture practices to sustainably produce local food.
  • It will also create a green space that encourages student and community engagement and offers opportunities for students and community members to learn about the benefits of food forest planting.

Trillium Public School – Learning Gardens Project

  • The Learning Gardens Project will add additional vegetable seeds, new soil and pollinator plants to the existing butterfly garden at Trillium Public School.
  • These plants and new soil will rehabilitate the area and help build collaboration and compassion through student accountability and responsibility to the garden.
  • The project will also encourage innovative learning and environmental stewardship through hands-on interaction with nature inside and outside the classroom.
  • The school-wide initiative will involve kindergarten, primary and junior teams, with learning activities that match curriculum expectations and interests of students.

Eastwood Collegiate Institute – Closed Loop Hot Compost

  • The closed-loop compost program aims to reduce food waste through diversion into an onsite compost program and to build a 4ftX12ft polycarbonate mini greenhouse to produce more food for the school community.
  • Eastwood aims to use the garden to address food insecurity by supplying produce to the community through free markets and the Green Industries program offered at Eastwood.
  • The garden will further address food insecurity through a planned expansion, which will directly and positively impact school community members.

About the Tim Walker Memorial Award

In May 2006, the Board passed a motion to administer the Tim Walker Memorial Award for Environmental Stewardship. The annual award honours the life of secondary school teacher Tim Walker and his contribution to education and environmental initiatives. The 2022-23 school year marks the sixteenth anniversary of the Tim Walker Award for Environmental Stewardship.

The annual award is $2,000 and is funded by the Board of Trustees’ budget. Each recipient is awarded an equal sum of $500.