An emphasis is being placed on eco education in the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB), and 75 per cent of Dufferin County’s public schools have already leapt in with both feet.
Earlier this week, the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) reported 53 of the 76 public schools within its boundaries are EcoSchool certified. In Dufferin County, 12 of the board’s 18 schools have already earned the distinction.
“It’s a record number for us,” said UGDSB spokesperson Heather Loney. “Our goal is to have 100 per cent of all schools certified. We’re working towards that. In a couple of years, that is going to be our goal.”
The Ontario EcoSchools environmental education and certification program encourages schools to develop eco-friendly initiatives and reduce their environmental footprint.
Schools seeking the designation earn EcoPoints throughout the year, which can be awarded for a wide range of activities, events or initiatives with environmentally friendly themes.
For example, Loney said some schools have gained points for incorporating ecological themes into lesson plans, participating in events such as Earth Day and conducting waste audits.
“It is something that you have to do every year too. You can’t get certificated once and then you are in,” she said. “You have to do it every single year to keep that certification.”
The number of points received throughout the year determines if the school receives a bronze, silver, gold or platinum EcoSchool designation. So far, Victoria Terrace Public School in Fergus is the lone UGDSB school to earn a platinum designation.
Of the 53 EcoSchools in the UGDSB, 24 have been awarded gold rankings. A dozen schools in Dufferin County, including all three high schools, are certified EcoSchools.
This eco-movement has even inspired UGDSB officials to follow in its students’ lead. Loney said staff are being encouraged to employ similar models within all UGDSB facilities.
“Even though there is no such thing as an EcoOffice, we are just going to model that behaviour,” Loney explained. “We are encouraging our schools, but we are also encouraging our other facilities to do it as well.”