News / Calgary

Calgary students take charge of climate change education

Alberta schools showcased their environmental projects last weekend

Grade 12 student Shauna Kelly pictured here presenting her petition to MLA Graham Sucha.

Contributed / ACEE

Grade 12 student Shauna Kelly pictured here presenting her petition to MLA Graham Sucha.

When Adam Robb began teaching nearly 11 years ago the words “climate change” were rarely uttered in the classroom.

Now, a decade later, the teacher and climate change educator at the Calgary Board of Education’s Career and Technology Center says he’s seeing a sea-change.

“It’s come to the point where we have the head of the Alberta School Board Association saying that there's no doubt about the science of climate change and that we need these types of education programs in every school board,” he said.

Last weekend, one of Robb’s students, Shauna Kelly presented a petition to the Alberta government as a part of the '150 ways Alberta Schools show Climate Leadership' forum.

The petition asked the government to create a Climate Charter that would create financial incentives for any school board willing to decrease their environmental footprint and increase environmental education within their schools.

“Especially with climate change being such a huge issue that we’re facing right now, I think having that student voice and opinion out there is really important,” she said.

Gareth Thomson, executive director of the Alberta Council For Environmental Education (ACEE), said a similar charter was introduced in British Columbia and has had a significant impact.

“The BC government recognizes a special status that schools and school boards have to help create environmental literacy and indeed climate literacy,” he said.

Thomson said right now in Alberta schools have an abundant moral incentive to help student prepare for climate change.

“It’s very helpful, as we all know, to help by providing financial incentive, so that was the request – for the minister to set that up and encourage school boards to do more when it comes to climate leadership,” he said.

Education minister David Eggen said he’s pleased to see the province’s young people taking on such an important cause.

“The Alberta government is connecting with Albertans on curriculum development through surveys, ensuring that curriculum aligns with Albertans’ priorities – which include topics like climate leadership, environmental stewardship, and many more,” he said.

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