Niagara Environmental Corps. Hikes with Niagara Bruce Trail Club

The Niagara Bruce Trail Club Fall 2013 hike schedule began in September 2013, and the NEC was able to participate with them on their Wetland Ridge and Bruce Trail Hike. On September 14th 2013, the NBTC and the NEC met at the Niagara College Greenhouse Nursery for introductions, a beginner’s hiking lesson and a warm up. The hike leader for the morning was Margaret Kalogeropoulos.

The trails that the group hiked on are part of the Niagara Escarpment, a United Nations Biosphere Reserve, which can be spotted at the ends of the grape rows of the Wine Visitor and Education Centre, and all along the campus. The Escarpment is a unique area, with many geologic, biological and environmentally specific aspects.

In particular, on the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, Woodend Conservation Area is the park associated with the portion of the Escarpment our campus faces. Students, employees and visitors are more than welcome to explore the campus grounds, and we are fortunate that between the campus and the Escarpment, there are three major interconnecting trails including the Niagara Bruce Trail, the Wetland Ridge Trail and the Laura Secord Trail. 

The weather was beautiful, and many students came out for the morning hike. 

Sustainability Ambassadors host Biodiversity Booth

The Sustainability Ambassadors is an education outreach program committed to engaging Niagara College about sustainability by promoting education, exploration and involvement. Understanding how to integrate sustainability principles into everyone’s lives is important, and the Ambassadors are able to effect positive and continual change.

This program will draw from opportunities from the Sustainability Themed Year, launching September 2013 o n campus.  The Sustainability Themed Year will incorporate topics such as biodiversity, waste, paper, carbon emissions, globalization, food, water, energy and earth. These topics will be promoted through various activities such as campaigns, events, community and campus volunteer opportunities, sustainability seminar series, challenges and more. As well, the Ambassadors will be working closely with the Niagara Environmental Corps. a student organization on campus promoting stewardship for the environment.

One of the first programs the Sustainability Ambassadors were involved in was hosting a comprehensive biodiversity booth during lunch hours at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus. The booth was created to engage students and employees passing through to the cafeteria about local and global biodiversity issues, and to generate general interest in flora and fauna.

The Environmental and Horticultural Studies Department generously offered a wide variety of equipment for the display table. Some of the items included several collections of insects, magnifying glasses and slides of algae and bacteria specimens, pressed collections of flora and collections of benthic invertebrate samples and identification tags. Several Niagara Environmental Corps. students created a display board as well, showcasing biodiversity and ecotourism in Niagara.

This booth was a great success, and many students from different programs came by to take a look at the insects, microscopes and other specimens and chat about their experiences with the outdoors. Engaging with the students was a good experience for the Sustainability Ambassadors, especially because everyone can relate to nature and biodiversity. The Ambassadors hope to host more booths throughout the school year.

Photos from the Event

Sustainability Ambassadors present Where Does That Waste Go?! Program

The Sustainability Ambassadors is an education outreach program committed to engaging Niagara College about sustainability by promoting education, exploration and involvement. Understanding how to integrate sustainability principles into everyone’s lives is important, and the Ambassadors are able to effect positive and continual change.

This program will draw from opportunities from the Sustainability Themed Year, launching September 2013 o n campus.  The Sustainability Themed Year will incorporate topics such as biodiversity, waste, paper, carbon emissions, globalization, food, water, energy and earth. These topics will be promoted through various activities such as campaigns, events, community and campus volunteer opportunities, sustainability seminar series, challenges and more. As well, the Ambassadors will be working closely with the Niagara Environmental Corps. a student organization on campus promoting stewardship for the environment.

One of the programs that the Sustainability Ambassadors host throughout the school year, is a program called, “Where Does That Waste Go?!” This program runs typically during lunch time hours, and the Ambassadors station themselves at the two waste receptacles in the Cafeteria.

During the Winter 2012 semester, the Sustainability Committee and Niagara College replaced waste receptacles in the hallway with four stream waste bins. The bins feature streams for regular solid waste, glass, plastics and metals, paper products and organics. The bins also feature signs above each compartment that will help staff and students identify what items can be placed in what waste stream. It is the hope of the sustainability committee that these bins will help to increase the diversion rate at Niagara College.

Niagara College is committed to reducing environmental impacts in every action and decision we make. One of the sustainability targets that has been adopted by the Sustainability Committee, is 65% waste diversion from the landfill. This target is aligned with the Region’s target. Annual waste audits are conducted for compliance with the Ministry of Environment, and to understand on campus waste disposal practices.

Through the Where Does That Waste Go?! program, the Sustainability Ambassadors are able to engage with students and employees on an individual level, right as waste is entering the bins. Helping everyone put their waste items in the proper streams can help us reduce contamination, and reach our 65% diversion target by increasing the amount of waste being recycled. 

Photos of the Sustainability Ambassadors hosting WDTGO?! Program

 

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup Results

Despite the heavy rain on Saturday September 21st 2013, the Niagara Environmental Corps. headed out to the Old Canal at Centennial Gardens Park in St. Catharines. The group was participating in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a national initiative that has been taking place for the past twenty years.

Presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, and a conservation and cleanup initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium and World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is one of the largest environmental community engagement programs in Canada. Community members are encouraged to get involved with water quality and conservation issues in their communities. Shoreline litter is a serious issue, and since the beginning of this initiative approximately 1.1 million kilograms of litter has been removed across Canadian waterways.

This year because of the rain, all of the students were dressed for the occasion in rubber boots, rain jackets, and ponchos. The NEC is fortunate this year, to have purchased a tent for our outdoor events, and it worked well for. It was used as a registration and first aid table as well as a food station. Light snacks were available, hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, clear, blue, black and compost bags, garbage pickers and other various items were around to make the event more enjoyable.

In total, fourty volunteers came out to the cleanup, which was a pleasant surprise, considering the amount of rain! Some of the volunteers are current members of the Niagara Environmental Corps., a few of the volunteers were Niagara College Alumni from the Environmental Management and Assessment Program, as well as two full time staff members, Taryn Wilkinson (Sustainability Coordinator) and Danielle Piluso (Embedded Energy Manager). In addition, we were very fortunate to have Gillian Shriner, a Niagara College Board of Governor’s support.

This year’s cleanup was a great success. The site was selected because it represents a snapshot of local, inner city waste issues that take place upstream. All of the water that runs through the canal the NEC cleanup alongside, will drain out into Lake Ontario.

It was an intense four hours of scaling the canal, picking up heavy pieces of garbage, and everyone worked together. All of the volunteers had fun with the event, and have all agreed that they would do it again in a heartbeat. Having this cleanup is a great way to network with all of the new students at the college, and provide us all an opportunity to break the ice, and start building the team work mentality that the NEC thrives on.

The NEC has proven their dedication to tackling environmental issues in Niagara once again! 

Green Day 2013 Living Local

On September 25th 2013, campus students and staff as well as community members gathered in the NOTL Courtyard to celebrate the 7th annual Green Day event. This year’s theme was “Living Local,” in support of all of the local sustainable and environmental businesses and organizations, helping to strengthen relationships in the Niagara Region.

There were over twenty-five vendors participating this year who are involved actively in environmental and community based stewardship in a variety of ways including activism, engagement and engagement. Some of the main features of this year’s event included all of the diverse vendors, a wildlife demonstration from Niagara College’s Dave Gibson and his birds of prey, a reuse sale, silent raffle and raffle draw, an electronic waste collection, local food vendors and a variety of sustainability workshops.

This year, the workshops included:

Trout Unlimited fly fishing workshop,

Sustainably Ours, Living Local sessions,

Paddle Niagara’s Stand up Paddle demonstrations,

Niagara Environmental Corps. Campus Tours

Community CarShare’s sustainable transportation talks, and

SkyHunter’s Birds of Prey 

In addition to the workshops, for the first time ever, the NEC were fortunate enough to have a local farmer, Mark Houtby come and set up for the day. Mark Houtby is a MYPICK verified, LOCAL FARMER, meaning everything that is available at his stand in the market has come straight from his own farm. He can be spotted at the Saturday Farmer’s Market in St. Catharines, weekly and grows award winning Gladiolas, and a variety of seasonal vegetables.

This year, in support of local food and sustainable product sourcing, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute and Mathay Café were the food vendors of the event.

The success of  the event can be attributed to many of the people that have been involved in the event planning, to the volunteers, guests and of course, the vendors. Olga Eizhvertina, an Environmental Technician student, acted as Green Day Coordinator, and began planning this event in July. She successfully launched the Living Local theme and helped to make sure everything ran smoothly for the guests and volunteers. 

The Niagara Environmental Corps. always participates in running the main attractions of Green Day, and also participates in talking to all of the vendors. Having this event take place in September is a great way to break the ice with classmates, new friends, and get started on networking with organizations and businesses in Niagara and learning about how they can get involved.