Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) students and staff are working hard to do their part to make a difference in the environment. We are guided by the wisdom taught to us by First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. They have always been stewards of the land and water and have always recognized a deep and reciprocal relationship with the environment.

The Tim Walker Memorial Award for Environmental Stewardship is awarded each year to WRDSB schools in memory of the late Tim Walker, a secondary school teacher, and his contributions to education and environmental initiatives. 

We are proud to share the winners of the 17th Annual Tim Walker Award for Environmental Stewardship:

The 2023-24 Winners

  • Sheppard Public School
  • Trillium Public School
  • Glenview Park Secondary School
  • U-Turn, Alternative Education, Cambridge

Congratulations to the staff and students from the selected schools. Thank you for championing and leading these inspiring environmental initiatives in our community. Your efforts to make your school green and environmentally friendly will have a lasting impact for years to come.

Tim Walker Memorial Award 2023-24 Winners

Project Summaries

Sheppard Public School – Companion Garden inspired by Haudenosaunee Three Sisters gardening

At Sheppard Public School, the students created a unique companion garden inspired by the traditional Three Sisters Garden:

  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Squash

The initiative provided students with a hands-on learning experience about the interconnectedness of the natural world. Students aim to share Indigenous land teachings and foster sustainable practices by working harmoniously with the land. By nurturing foods native to the region, students will delve into the art of food cultivation. This will expand their understanding beyond the supermarket aisles. This initiative not only cultivates a deeper appreciation for nature’s balance but also honors Indigenous knowledge. In particular, the Haudenosaunee approach to Three Sisters gardening. 

Trillium Public School – Microforest and Learning Gardens Project

At Trillium Public School, the Kindergarten team is dedicated to enhancing outdoor learning experiences for students. Through the Learning Gardens Project, now a school-wide initiative, the students aim to enrich the environment by:

  • Adding more vegetable seeds indoors in greenhouses
  • Introducing new soil
  • Incorporating pollinator plants into their butterfly garden 

Additionally, the students plan to enhance the micro forest area with native, edible bushes and protective wood chips. This will help to facilitate habitat rehabilitation and foster student engagement and responsibility. In the long term, this initiative will: 

  • Promote academic growth and love for outdoor learning 
  • Create a vibrant micro forest providing shade and sanctuary for native wildlife and future generations to explore

Glenview Park Secondary School – The Community Coop

At Glenview Park, students took the initiative to address food insecurity in our school community by building a chicken coop. This coop will enable students to raise chickens for their “Panther Pantry” food program. This program provides essential meals for families facing food security issues. Despite support from breakfast program funds and internal staff fundraising, there’s a need for protein in these meals. Raising their own chickens makes this more feasible and aligns with the commitment to environmental sustainability.

The project provides essential food for those in need while offering valuable hands-on experience for students in their green industries and environmental Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs. The eco club oversees and promotes the project to the broader school community. Additionally, the chickens’ diet can be supplemented with compost waste from their hospitality classes. At the same time, the manure serves as fertilizer for their vegetable garden beds, fostering community support and sustainability practices to benefit those in need.

U-Turn, Alternative Education, Cambridge – Composter

Students at U-Turn, Alternative Education in Cambridge, are taking action to:

  • Reduce waste
  • Foster environmental stewardship

The students proposed the creation of a 3-stage box composter following discussions about waste management and a week-long waste audit due to the absence of a green bin for compostable materials. With this composter, students will take charge of managing and rotating the compost heap under staff supervision. This initiative will not only remove green waste from landfills but will also produce compost to enrich their community garden beds. 

About the Tim Walker Award for Environmental Stewardship

The award was established in 2006 by the Board of Trustees to honour the life of the late Tim Walker, a secondary school teacher. The focus of the award recognizes his contributions to education and environmental initiatives. It aims to encourage the growth and sustainability of green initiatives in our schools. 

Every year, schools are invited to submit their applications to receive funding – up to $2,000 is available each year. The award is equally distributed amongst four schools, with $500 awarded to each recipient.

The Adjudication Committee includes:

  • Stephanie and Jim Walker (parents of the late Tim Walker)
  • Trustee Joe Meissner
  • Student Trustee Abdullah Awan

The committee reviews applications from schools and takes the following criteria into consideration:

  • Staff and student involvement (current and future) and environmental stewardship
  • Impact on student learning, fostering learning and engaging students
  • Environmental benefits: 
    • Shading
    • Greening
    • Waste reduction
    • Recycling
    • Organized action/school environmental club, etc. 

Schools that meet the criteria are then selected to receive the awards for that school year.