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TRCA celebrates 15 years of Peel EcoSchools program

June 20, 2024   ·   0 Comments

5,500 students engaged in school “EcoTeams” during 2022-2023 school year


Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A program dedicated to making Peel’s schools greener has reached a major milestone. 

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) celebrated the 15th anniversary of its Peel EcoSchools program last month at the Claireville Outdoor Education Centre. 

In a media release, TRCA communications staff said the event highlighted the culture of environmental stewardship and sustainability that school board staff and their students have built. 

Schools in the Peel District School Board (PDSB) and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) participate in the Peel EcoSchools program.

Darryl Gray, the TRCA’s Director of Education and Training and, on May 14, he welcomed over 120 students to the Claireville Outdoor Education Centre to celebrate 15 years of Peel EcoSchools. Also welcomed to the centre were school board staff, educators, and trustees from the PDSB and DPCDSB.

TRCA communications staff said the event featured engaging, hands-on activities focused on environmental leadership, climate change and outdoor learning. The statement added that thanks to support from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, event attendees were able to plant over 400 trees and shrubs. Each tree or shrub represents a school in Peel. 

Attendees also received a scenic tour of the centre and a gallery walk that showcased the achievements of Peel EcoSchools.

“TRCA’s Peel EcoSchools program builds on the capacity of the EcoSchool Canada initiative, a national program that enables students and educators to build custom certification plans that align with over 50 environmental actions, all linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” they said. “With the support of the Region of Peel, the Peel EcoSchools Program collaborates with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic and Peel District school boards to promote positive climate, water, and waste actions. This is accomplished by encouraging behavioural changes and operational shifts through completion of various EcoSchools Canada certification actions.”

For example, Peel schools have undertaken a number of actions to reduce litter, sort waste properly, and promote zero-waste policies. In 2023, Peel schools participating in the EcoSchools program diverted 271.2 kilograms of waste from landfills. 

“The celebration at Claireville showcased the collective dedication and hard work of educators and student EcoTeams, all striving to make Peel Region a greener, healthier, more sustainable place,” reads the media release. “It was a celebration of shared success in instilling these values in the next generation of environmental stewards.”

Over the last 15 years, Peel EcoSchools have earned 2,888 certifications, with 49 per cent of schools certified earning gold or platinum-level certification, the highest available.

More than 2,750 teachers from the PDSB and DPCDSB have received training and professional development opportunities through Peel EcoSchools. 

Since 2010, Peel EcoSchools have received 276 grants totalling almost $70,000 for projects like creating pollinator gardens, community cleanups, installation of anti-idling signs and more. 

During the 2022 to 2023 school year, 236 schools in Peel were certified as EcoSchools. Almost 80 per cent of those certified schools achieved gold or platinum-level certification. 

Between the 236 schools, 3,400 environmental actions were completed, 5,500 students participated in school “EcoTeams”, and 408,000 hours of outdoor education took place.



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