Teacher Jodi Waters doesn’t lead her Garbage Busters Club to turn a profit and she doesn’t do it for recognition.
However, the Grade 4 teacher at Qualicum Beach’s Arrowview Elementary School and her class this week received a healthy helping of both, when they learned they had won first place in the Unilever EcoVoyageurs Environmental Awards Program.
The national contest saw elementary school classes from across the country compete to see whose environmental project would be chosen to receive a $500 award for the class and a $1,500 award for the school.
On Tuesday, in a phone call from Toronto, Waters found out the Garbage Busters program had taken first spot in Canada for the Grade 4 category.
Like the youngsters in her class, she was over the moon.
“We’re pretty excited,” she said. “It was a great idea they came up with and to see it come alive like this is really great.”
The Garbage Busters, she said, clean up the fields at their school at least once a week, depending on the weather and then sits down with the trash they’ve collected and analyze what it is and where it comes from.
“We talk about what garbage was left by students and what might have been left behind by the outside community,” Waters said.
“We make a list of all the things we find and write messages about what needs to be picked up.”
That, however, is just the start.
“We paint a garbage can each year and paint it with messages about the environment and then give them back to the community, so they can see and reflect on what their garbage stands for,” Waters said.
“Our latest project is called the Walk of Thought, where the town agreed to paint footprints on a path between Cardinal Way and Sunset Boulevard and the students will write environmental messages in each footprint, so when people walk there they can think about what the kids had to say.”
This project, which was unanimously approved at a recent Qualicum Beach town council meeting, was integral to the win, she said, noting that a video of their presentation to council, provided by The News, went a long way to putting them over the top.
Flush with her win, Waters and her class plan to think about how they want to spend their share of the winnings.
“There are all sorts of environmental ideas and projects we can apply it to, so we are going to talk about it in class,” she said, smiling.
“But we might just start out with a little class party.”