News Release: EcoSchools Canada will Engage Students as Protectors of Biodiversity in the Greenbelt

Oct 29, 2021   •   Featured , News

EcoSchools Canada will Engage Students as Protectors of Biodiversity in the Greenbelt

With Support from Greenbelt Foundation, Students Will Learn about Native Plants and Plant Trees

TORONTO, October 29, 2021— Through a new program called “Taking Action in the Greenbelt,” EcoSchools Canada will teach students in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region about the importance of biodiversity and native plant species, while giving them hands-on experience planting trees, shrubs, and other native plants on their school grounds and lands within the broader community. 

With $70K in funding from the Greenbelt Foundation, EcoSchools Canada will develop tools and resources to teach students from kindergarten to grade 12 about native plants and biodiversity. "

With $70,000 in funding from the Greenbelt Foundation, EcoSchools Canada will develop tools and resources for students in kindergarten to grade 12 that will build their knowledge of plants and the surrounding ecosystems. The organization will collaborate with 34 school boards and districts in the Greenbelt, engaging directly with 150+ schools, and 75,000 students. This initiative will support new and existing EcoSchools which are seeking to achieve EcoSchool certification for the 2022 school year.

"I am proud to see this partnership between EcoSchools Canada and the Greenbelt Foundation come together to educate students about the environment,” says Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Building this awareness through hands-on experiences will work to foster lasting interest, care and support for protecting the environment."

Established in 2005, EcoSchools Canada's award-winning certification framework fosters student leadership and supports environmental education in K-12 schools across the country. Each year, schools apply for and receive EcoSchools certification by choosing from over 45 environmental actions that address issues ranging from energy conservation to waste minimization. The program reaches over 1,000,000 students annually across nine provinces and territories.

“Increasing natural cover in urban communities is a priority for the Greenbelt Foundation and a crucial step in adapting locally to the climate crisis,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO, Greenbelt Foundation. “EcoSchools Canada is a perfect partner to help educate the next generation about climate change and natural cover, and lead students in making positive impacts in their schools and local communities.”

 “As a national program that was born and raised in Ontario, EcoSchools Canada is proud and excited to bring awareness of the Greenbelt region nationwide through our program. Ontario students will get their hands dirty planting native plants, shrubs, and trees with support from this grant, and we can’t wait to see the results,” said Ryan Dyment, Director, EcoSchools Canada.

To support varying COVID-19 scenarios, EcoSchools Canada will be developing education materials that can be used during in-person, virtual, as well as hybrid learning experiences. Education resources will be developed in both English and French. EcoSchools will also create a “Greenbelt Action Card” that will guide students and their communities in identifying native plants on school property, collect data on natural cover before and after plantings, and identify potential impacts to their communities under different climate scenarios. 

Announcement Event

 On October 29, 2021, at 9:30 a.m., the Greenbelt Foundation will host a 15 minute live-streamed announcement event from Milton Park Chris Hadfield Elementary School. Representatives from the Government of Ontario, as well as program and community leaders are invited to attend. Student representatives will have the opportunity to speak about their experience with EcoSchools and the importance of the Greenbelt to biodiversity and climate change, more broadly.

To read a Backgrounder with additional details, please click HERE.



“Charitable organizations like the Greenbelt Foundation play an integral part in protecting the Greenbelt and our environment for future generations. It is important for all of us to do our part in growing the Greenbelt, and the first steps of this process were witnessed earlier this year when our government launched a 60-day consultation to grow the size and quality of the Greenbelt, to help protect its farmlands, forests, wetlands, and watersheds from future development. We need to leave Ontario in a better place than we found it, and the Greenbelt Foundation’s work with EcoSchools Canada is helping to achieve this. Educating our youth on the importance of environmental protections is necessary so that the children of tomorrow can enjoy Ontario’s Greenbelt, and all its natural beauty.” - Parm Gill, Member of Provincial Parliament for Milton and Minister of Multiculturalism and Citizenship.

“As a school, our vision is to empower our students with the knowledge of how every seed they plant and every flower they grow leads to change. Our vision is that every blossom, every hardship, every grain of soil that was once separated from us becomes a part of us once more. Our vision is a more sustainable future. A future of conservation and clean air. Our vision is that more gardens like our own will emerge, helping to create lasting change for all. Our students are the inspiration for change.”- Lisa Turbitt, Teacher-Librarian/Ontario Eco-Schools Lead, Chris Hadfield Public School.

“The important work of EcoSchools can be seen as the stages of trees: they start as seeds that sprout into saplings, then blossom into trees with roots grasping into the soil. From the trees, seeds fall to create whole forests of change. In metaphorical terms, it’s our job to water those seeds that grow into movement in our society. All actions matter. Students, adults – we can all make a difference. The work of EcoSchools makes a difference. We’re planting those seeds that grow into bigger changes, trying to inspire and assist.” -  Kaitlyn Rumford, Eco-Hawk/Student Representative, Chris Hadfield Public School.

About Greenbelt Foundation: 

Greenbelt Foundation is a charitable organization, solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous. We make the right investments in its interconnected natural, agricultural, and economic systems, to ensure a working, thriving Greenbelt for all. Ontario's Greenbelt is the world's largest, with over two million acres of farmland, forests, wetlands and rivers working together to provide clean air, fresh water, and a reliable local food source.  

About EcoSchools:

Since 2005, EcoSchools Canada’s award-winning certification framework has provided independent reporting and recognition for schools and outdoor and environmental education centres. Reaching about 1 million students annually, we are the largest bilingual, voluntary environmental certification program for K-12 schools in Canada. We support engagement across all levels of the education sector – from students and teachers to trustees and parents – through training workshops and webinars, annual conferences, educational resources, and national campaigns.

Greenbelt Foundation Media Contact: 

Petronilla Ndebele
Director of Strategic Communications
, Greenbelt Foundation 
(416) 960-0001 Extension
[email protected] 

EcoSchools Media Contact:

Lourdes David
Communications Coordinator, EcoSchools Canada
(647) 207-2607
[email protected]

Greenbelt Foundation Social Media: 

Instagram: @ongreenbelt 
Twitter: @greenbeltca 
Facebook: Ontario Greenbelt 

EcoSchools Social Media:

Twitter: @EcoSchoolsCAN
Facebook: @EcoSchoolsCAN
Instagram: @ecoschoolscan