Education on Planet Earth: Understanding the relationship between climate leadership and environmental, outdoor, and energy education!

Monday, 6 February, 2017
W. P. Wagner High School, Edmonton, AB

Thank you to everyone that attended the conference. There were over 800 educators attending the full conference with over 400 participants in the Education on Planet Earth sessions. Thank you to the presenters and exhibitors that made Education on Planet Earth a success. A BIG thanks to Edmonton Public Schools for collaborating with us on this event.

The conference helped educators...

  • Understand the relationships between climate leadership and environmental, outdoor and energy education
  • Explore the links to career pathways
  • Connect with other teachers, community leaders, and new classroom tools

This event was in collaboration with Edmonton Public Schools' Career Pathways - Creating Connections professional learning day.

Keynotes for the day were:

Hon. David Eggen, Minister of Education; and 

Michael Furdyk, co-founder of TakingITGlobal.

CLICK HERE to see the full program.

"I just wanted to reach out and thank you all for such a fantastic Professional Learning Day.  It was wonderfully organized and gave me (CBU) many opportunities to network and have conversations with motivated teachers.  The work that you’re doing is remarkable and it was refreshing to see how invested Albertan educational stakeholders are in sustainable education." - Kristin O'Rourke, Cape Breton University 

For more information, contact Conference Chair Kathy Worobec: Kathy [at]

Thank you to our sponsors!



8:00am - 8:30am

Arrival/Check in

Collect your registration package.

8:30am - 9:45am

Welcome from EPSB, Opening Remarks and Keynote Michael Furdyk

Welcome and Opening Remarks from Jennifer Allen, Principal W. P. Wagner School and Darrel Robertson, Superintendent Edmonton Public Schools.

Keynote - Michael Furdyk, co-founder of TakingITGlobal, will talk about the importance of engaging young people in global issues.

8:30am - 9:45am

9:45am - 10:15am

Health Break and Exhibits

Take time to connect with your colleagues, grab a snack and a coffee, and check out the exhibits.

10:15am - 11:00am

Green School Connections - A Teacher's Guide to Innovation, Strategy and Resources

Building on the popular Green School's Summit session 'My School is Green, What does that Mean?' this interactive conversation speaks to teachers as the final users of green schools. We engage attendees on next steps they can take within their class, curriculum and community to further an understanding and collaborative involvement in sustainable building. The room demographic is readjusted to combine seasoned green school occupants with knowledge seekers and those who are just starting to embark on sustainable building programs. The fundamental elements of a LEED/green building program establish focus platforms to start dynamic conversations and feedback. By answering: 'what happens now?', 'what's working?' and 'where do we go from here?' attendees are provided with the necessary information, resources and connections to active examples of green building initiatives and curricula across the province. Whether they are new to green building or looking for advanced tools on implementing a green school project, we want to connect school administration, teachers, and school boards with local activities, regional initiatives, and a network of educators who are doing amazing things with their students throughout North America. 

Presenter: Lindsey Kindrat, Executive Director, 3 Point Environmental

Divisions: Divisions 1 to 4

Backyard Bees, Gardens and Apple Trees - Session is Full - repeated at 2:45

Engage your school community in an enrichment project that teaches environmental stewardship through beekeeping, gardening, and orchard management. Through a deep inquiry process, learn how to transform your students into beekeepers and master gardeners.  Our Bee Buddies and Eco Club projects have turned our students into engaged thinkers, ethical citizens, and outstanding entrepreneurs...not to mention the money raised by selling our local all natural honey!

Presenter: Penny Mueller, Principal, Crestomere School and Rory Whitbread, Teacher, École Lacombe Junior High School - Wolf Creek Public Schools

Divisions: Divisions 1 to 4

Climate Change Education and Careers

Climate change education can resonate with every student, grade level and subject as it emphasizes the connection between economy, environment, science and society. Here in Alberta, we have a dynamic natural resources landscape that provides a variety of exciting stewardship and diverse career opportunities for our students. This cross-curricular session will give you tools to explore climate change and the associated career pathways. We will showcase student-centred activities and award-winning programs that will provide you with ideas and tools tailor-made for your classroom. Inside Education is here to support you from start to finish with our full suite of no-cost teaching resources, youth summits, student programs, and full-scholarship professional development that are designed to support you and inspire your students.

Presenter: Laura Pekkola, Inside Education

Divisions: Divisions 2 to 4

Reconnecting to Nature at the High School Level

The development of a Natural Science program at Robert Thirsk High School in Calgary continues to be quite the journey. The program has grown from a single Grade 10 class offering in 2013 when the school opened to 4 class offerings from Grade 10 to Grade 12. Join Warren Lake, who considers himself to be a classroom biology teacher who is in transition back to the outdoors, as we discuss the success and challenges of creating a vibrant and every changing program that strives to incorporate student voice into the projects and everyday workings of this program. A discussion of resources and past and future ideas to ensue. The essence of the program survives in the quote by Nelson Henderson - "The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit".

Presenter: Warren Lake, Teacher, Robert Thirsk High School, Calgary

Divisions: Division 4


10:15am - 11:45am Workshop

Encouraging Affect - the Foundation of Ecoliteracy

Affect, Awareness, and Action are what I refer to as the three A’s of ecoliteracy.
In this workshop I will focus on ways to encourage affect between humans and other nature. A sense of emotional connection to the natural world is the foundation of ecoliteracy - it is what is needed to encourage respect for the environment that supports us, as well as to instill a desire to protect it.  

In todays’ society, children are spending significantly less time outside, and research is showing that this trend has been detrimental to their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Many of our children’s challenges, such as attention deficit disorder, obesity, depression, and anxiety disorders can be linked directly to them not spending enough time outside. (Louv, 2005)

In this workshop, we will explore how to make time outside a regular part of the school experience. We will cover topics such as weekly nature walks, earth art, natural writing, tree buddies, solo sits, and nature journaling as ways to encourage a feeling of caring and connection to the natural world.  If time and circumstance permits, we will be have a hands-on component to the workshop as well.

Presenter: Antonella Bell, Graduate Student, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta

Divisions: 1 to 4

Toolkit for Teaching about Climate Change

This interactive workshop begins by exploring why some teachers avoid teaching controversial topics, such as climate change. It looks at how to engage students by linking their daily lives to the effects of a changing climate. Using examples of current research in climate, Savannah will explore the important aspects of the nature of science that need to be understood by students as they build on their understanding. The last half of the workshop will focus on ten or more different activities and approaches to teaching aspects of climate change from simulations and debates to case studies and games. 

Presenter: Savannah Poirier Hollander, School Program Instructor, Biogeoscience Institute, University of Calgary

Divisions: 3 and 4


11:00am - 11:15am

Health Break and Exhibits

Take time for a break, move to your next session or check out exhibits.

11:15am - 12:00pm

Riparian Areas - The Sacred Link between Land and Water

Riparian areas are the zones of water-loving vegetation that border streams, lakes, and wetlands.  These “ribbons of green” tie all of us together on the landscape by way of their ecological functions and values provided to society. The Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish) has been working with communities on riparian awareness for 25 years with a variety of tools (adaptable for all ages) available for learning opportunities. offer field days, indoor presentations and hands-on activities such as pond-dipping, shoreline walks and outdoor learning games.

This presentation will highlight, using a variety of photographic images, the value of riparian areas, their linkages with biodiversity and the environment, thus focusing on learning opportunities for sharing the science of riparian areas with children and youth. Examples of children/ youth activities highlighted in this presentation will include:

  • Wetland-in-a-Box - designed for all ages
  • Your Legacy - Caring for the Green Zone (grade 7 to high school)
  • It's a Ruckus in the Riparian Area - Grades 2 to 6 as well as Grade 8


Presenter: Jennifer Caudron, Riparian Specialist, Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish)

Divisions: 2 to 4


Acting Outside: Using Role-Play to Encourage Environmental Connections

Creating environmental education programs that effectively link both curricular concepts and natural curiosity in students can be a struggle.  Activities that utilize role-play can bridge these fundamentals through incorporating place-based learning, creative teaching practices, and student inquiry.  Through interactive role-play, participants connect more deeply with the message of the program as they are encouraged to help shape the activity; shifting students from passive observers to active creators.  When students take on a role using the medium of imagination, they are ‘trying on’ potential futures for themselves. This session will cover the impact of role-play as a form of program delivery, as well as provide examples of role-play programs/activities used for students in kindergarten up to Grade 12!

Presenter: Emma Ausford, Education Coordinator, Devonian Botanical Gardens

Divisions: 1 to 4

How do we teach about climate change to show climate leadership?

Teaching about climate change can be challenging - there are many perspectives, students often feel despair and it is complex. What are some strategies to help us teach this topic? This session will share current research and exemplars for teaching climate change that turns despair into action and give students hope while building their competencies. Minister Eggen has said the new curriculum will include more climate change education. This session will help you teach current curriculum and prepare you for new curriculum.

Presenter: Gareth Thomson, Executive Director, Alberta Council for Environmental Education

Divisions: 3 to 4

Generation Green - The Future of the Energy Sector - Full

Generation Green is the future of the energy sector. This presentation focuses on opportunities for youth to think up solutions, innovate and demonstrate leadership in renewable energy. Providing opportunities for youth to explore, learn and experience the latest in renewable energy technology can support their ability to have real world impact as youth and young adults.

Presenter: Raine Sillito, Education Coordinator, Green Calgary

Divisions: 3 and 4

Exploring Group Dynamics and Leadership Through Outdoor Skills

Teaching outdoor skills to students not only prepares them to be responsible recreationalist in our wildlands but it also provides context for students to learn about group dynamics and leadership.  Participants will be introduced to the outdoor skill of constructing a food hang.  They will be given materials and some instructional resources to figure out the process for construction.  As participants navigate through this task, they will be involved with a variety of feedback and reflective activities to explore their roles as learners, team members, and leaders.

Presenter: Leith Monaghan, Teacher, Calgary Girls' School

Division: 2 to 4

12:00pm - 1:00pm

Lunch - Connecting and Exhibits

Lunch will be buffet style and there will be two buffet lines in the East Gymnasium and the Cafeteria. 

Take some time to meet with colleagues and visit the exhibits in the West Gymnasium.


1:00pm - 1:30pm

Welcome from ACEE and Keynote Hon. David Eggen, Minister of Education

The Alberta Council for Environmental Education (ACEE) will bring welcoming remarks and introduce the Hon. David Eggen, Minister of Education.

Minister Eggen will talk about helping teachers better understand the connections between climate leadership, environment, outdoor and energy education and preparing students for their future career pathways.

1:30pm - 1:45pm

Health Break and Exhibits

Take time to connect with your colleagues, grab a snack and a coffee, and check out the exhibits.

1:45pm - 2:30pm

Growing Green Relationships - Full

How might we grow our commitment to wellness and use relationships as a platform for further growth?

In 2013 after Teachers Convention, Mike Hubick (principal in Parkland School DIvision at the time) bought 1 Tower Garden (6ft tall aeroponic garden growing system) and asked Mrs. Sarauer to find ways to engage the high school students with it. This group of high school students went on to complete options courses using the Tower Garden for a hands on experience. They propagated plants, grew plants, harvested plants and completed a foods course using food grown in the Tower. After an exciting and rich learning experience, Mr. Hubick was able to provide 2 more schools with Towers the next school year. Students from grades 1-12 in a wide variety of programs were now finding success with growing food and flowers all year long. Felicia Ochs, division wellness coordinator, found out what was happening at our schools and went on to build relationships with Juice Plus and find grant money from TD Friends of the Environment to help purchase 30 towers over the next 3 years.

We are a large school board with approximately 10,000 students and 1000 school staff.  In our 22 school sites we have 30 Green Towers that have all been generously funded by the TD Friends of the Environment grants.  Our towers give us the foundation to grow environmentalists and citizens committed to wellness in the community!  Currently the tower gardens are used in a variety of ways within the division.  Some are located in school hallways and foyers, others are located in school libraries and classroom.  Across the division students KG-12, custodians, volunteers, librarians, class teachers, and community members are engaged with the towers. 

As we look to the future we hope to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint, expose our students and larger community to a concept of abundant communities including living walls, closed ecosystems and solar powered innovations.  We are dedicated to educating ourselves in how to design communities in a carbon constrained world including topics such as mechanical composting, pollination patches, and flow hives.  We are also extending our focus to include indoor and outdoor natural environments for learning.  In the upcoming school year, Parkland School Division will be offering a Nature Kindergarten program!  Another branch we hope to explore is community relationships to help expose our students to natural foods, community kitchens and division-wide healthy family cooking classes. 

Presenter: Andrew Woloshyn and Ethan West, Grade 4 teachers, Graminia School - Parkland School Division

Divisions: 1 to 4

Project-Based Education for Sustainable Development

The process of teaching and learning consumes valuable resources, which has an impact on the environment, and Edmonton Public Schools is committed to minimizing that impact through best practices of sustainability in the areas of education, conservation, protection and regulation.  Maegan’s presentation will outline Edmonton Public Schools environmental policy, the EnviroMatters Office programs used to engage schools, as well as some larger scale energy and environmental initiatives currently running in the district.  Maegan will showcase some district success stories and briefly introduce how schools turn district initiatives into successful teaching and learning opportunities in the classroom.

Last year, Queen Elizabeth High School was recognized as the greenest school in Canada as a result of student-led initiatives through the INNOVATE Program. INNOVATE is a hands-on/project-based program that supports learning in real world context. Whether it’s investigating a problem, creating or inventing, developing a club or business, or implementing a humanitarian or environmental initiative, INNOVATE allows students the time and space to pursue their interests while earning high school credits. Coordinator Aaron Dublenko will discuss the pedagogy behind this program, summarize iconic projects and present on future initiatives that can be used in K-12 classrooms across the district. 

Presenters: Aaron Dublenko, Teacher, Queen Elizabeth High School and Argyll Centre, Coordinator of the Innovate Program, Edmonton

Maegan Lukian, Environmental Coordinator, Facilities, Edmonton Public Schools

Divisions: 3 and 4

Let's Talk Trash - Full

The Recycling Council of Alberta’s (RCA) mission is to promote and facilitate waste reduction, resource conservation and recycling in Alberta. Alberta has the highest waste disposed per capita in Canada and youth are becoming increasingly aware of waste management issues.

The first half of our presentation will provide a review of how waste contributes to greenhouse gas production, types of materials that can be diverted, and different programs students, teachers, and schools can take part in to reduce their environmental footprint. The second half will review the Green Routine Guru program case study, how the Elk Island Catholic School board reduced its waste and got students, teachers, custodial staff and parents involved.

The Case Study
Elk Island Catholic Schools, in Strathcona County are proud to live in a community that is able to divert 61% of its waste from landfill however, they wanted to be able to continue their waste diversion efforts at school. In 2015, the school introduced organics recycling to their waste diversion program as well as the Green Routine Guru program. Each school had a slightly different approach depending on where their students ate lunch and the grade level of the school. Students part of the environmental groups, leadership clubs or grade four classes volunteered to be Green Routine Guru’s. There were given one-on-one instruction on how the program would work, had to take a test to demonstrate their knowledge, and were presented with a certificate and badge to wear so other students knew who could answer their questions. Students went from class to class delivering mini presentations to teach their peers how the program works. The Gurus were responsible for filling out an online waste audit form after checking the fullness of waste, recycling and organics bins the day before collection in addition to checking if their classmates had sorted their waste properly. In all schools, janitorial staff and teachers pitched in to ensure the success of the program. Parents also got involved when they saw the schools’ commitment to the program. The students, school staff, and parents all valued the concept of reducing their waste and provide a fantastic sample of how students can take waste reduction leadership in their schools.

Presenter: Leanne Moreira, Project and Outreach Coordinator, Recycling Council of Alberta

Divisions: 1 to 3

Empowering Students to Show Climate Leadership

Join a provincial network of students (Alberta Climate Leadership Youth Network - ACLYN)  who are working together to help schools show Climate Leadership. Working with Minister Phillips and Alberta Education, these students will share their findings and research, accompanied by practical steps students, teachers and schools can take to show Climate Leadership in and outside the classroom. 

Green Jobs: Schools as Tools

Schools are investments in our future learners. Learn how the bricks and mortar can be leveraged encouraging learners to consider careers that support a low-carbon future.

Presenter: Tanya Doran, Senior Sustainability Lead - Alberta, Stantec

Divisions: 1, 2, 3 and 4


2:30pm - 2:45pm

Health Break and Exhibits

Take a break, connect with colleagues, move to your next session or visit the exhibits.

2:45pm - 3:30pm

Nature Kindergarten

Parkland School Division has developed a partnership with Camp YoWoChas to create an optional Kindergarten program that will get children active and in touch with nature. The program responds to identified early childhood indicators that demonstrate a need for additional social and physical development programming within our division. This program also seeks to explore the impact on early learning using the natural environment as a place where curiosity, play, problem-solving and calculated risk taking can occur in a safe way.

Presenter: Jeanette Radchenko, Teacher, Parkland School Division

Divisions: 1

Project Based Learning: Meaningful learning examples that leads to positive impacts for the environment and community

This session will explain the Innovate St. Richard Program, a unique project based learning program that combines school-wide energy management, environmental literacy, urban agriculture and social justice initiatives at the elementary level.  Focus will be given to finding support and funding, and overcoming road-blocks to open doors for your students to have a meaningful and positive impact on the environment and their community all the while hitting curricular outcomes.

Presenter: James Stuart, Teacher, St. Richard School and Innovate ECSD Facilitator, Edmonton

Divisions: 1 and 2

Agriculture and the Environment

The agriculture industry in Alberta helps to feed the world - and it plays a big role on our planet. This session will highlight agriculture education programs and resources for teachers that explore the impact of agriculture on the environment and the innovations and technologies being developed by the industry to lessen that impact, and in many cases to move beyond simply being 'sustainable' to being a industry that gives back to the environment. In our programs, students are introduced to a variety of topics within agriculture on sustainable farming and ranching practices, developments, and technologies. Teachers will learn how to incorporate sustainable agriculture into their curriculum in a meaningful way with connections to the Alberta Programs of Studies including CTF, CTS, Sciences, and Outdoor Education. Teachers will also have the opportunity to brainstorm tasks and activities to support exploration of a 'big question' related to sustainable agricultural practices in their classrooms.

Presenter: Heather Hanlon, Program Coordinator, Ag for Life

Divisions: 2 to 4

Backyard Bees, Gardens and Apple Trees

Engage your school community in an enrichment project that teaches environmental stewardship through beekeeping, gardening, and orchard management. Through a deep inquiry process, learn how to transform your students into beekeepers and master gardeners.  Our Bee Buddies and Eco Club projects have turned our students into engaged thinkers, ethical citizens, and outstanding entrepreneurs...not to mention the money raised by selling our local all natural honey!

Presenter: Penny Mueller, Principal, Crestomere School and Rory Whitbread, Teacher, École Lacombe Junior High School - Wolf Creek Public Schools

Divisions: Divisions 1 to 4

The Palisades in Jasper National Park: CTF/CTS and Environmental Outdoor Education - Full

Join the Education Lead from Parks Canada’s Palisades Stewardship Education Centre in Jasper National Park to learn about how this unique partnership is open to all schools in Alberta!  The Palisades Stewardship Education Centre in Jasper National Park is devoted to providing nature immersion programs that help students become personally connected to their environment, develop a sense of place and belonging, and move towards active ambassadorship.  Ecological, geographical, energy and physical literacy can be fostered at the centre.  Participants will  learn about the many ways the centre can support your students - grades 7-12.  We offer a host of programs: CTS modules, CTF Challenge Trips, General Outdoor Education, Junior High Science and more!!!

The Palisades Stewardship Education Centre is the result of a unique partnership between Parks Canada and Grande Yellowhead Regional School Division.  At this session, you will learn about current research in environmental and experiential education, strategies to incorporate outdoor learning into your own classroom, and how to organize a field trip to Parks Canada's full service education centre in Jasper National Park. 

The Palisades Stewardship Education Centre is committed to providing real world learning opportunities that connect students to their environment.  The competencies outlined in Inspiring Education are inherent in the programs.  Through communication, teamwork, stewardship and mountain recreation, students are connected to their natural environment and become lifelong ambassadors.  Problem solving, collaboration and leadership skills will be enhanced as students work and learn in cooperative groups, solve challenges and explore concepts in an alternative outdoor environment.  *Programming at the centre is available in French as well.

Presenter: Barbara Schmidt, Education Lead, The Palisades Stewardship Education Centre - Parks Canada and Grande Yellowhead School Division

Divisions: 3 and 4