Several projects encompass the goal to heighten awareness in and the involvement of the communities within the watershed.
In November 2009, the MRWCC initiated a watershed-wide poster contest that was open to youths in Kindergarten through Grade 8. Each year students are given a theme and are asked to illustrate the theme by drawing a picture. over the years the program has increased in participation. Judges are chosen to conduct a difficult task of selecting the winners in the following categories: Kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2, Grades 3 and 4, Grades 5 and 6, and Grades 7 and 8. Each year, all winners are invited to accept their prizes at the MRWCC's Annual General Meeting. Prizes are donated by ATB Financial and Alberta Emerald Foundation.
Yellow Fish Road
The Yellow Fish Road program was developed by Trout Unlimited Canada and is designed to increase awareness of stormwater impacts on receiving water and aquatic life. Essentially, the message is that material that washes into storm drains (i.e. oil, soap, soil, debris and garden chemicals) will flow untreated into our creeks, rivers and aquifers. Local students within the Milk River Watershed Council Canada are encouraged to participate in the Yellow Fish Road program by painting yellow fishes - using eco-friendly paint - along with the words "Rainwater Only" beside storm drains in their communities. In 2014, the MRWCC, Milk River Town Office and students and teachers of the Erle River Middle School partnered to deliver the program.
Agrium Caring for our Watershed Contest
In the fall of 2009, Agrium approached the MRWCC to be a community partner and help deliver this great opportunity to schools within the watershed. The Caring for our Watershed contest invited students in grades 7 through 12 to learn about their watershed, identify a concern and then propose a realistic solution for it. In the Milk River watershed, 27 grade eight students participated, with 6 of them continuing on to the top 10 in the Grade 7 through 9 category. Their initial project took the form of a 1000 word essay, accompanied by a power point presentation. The second phase was to orally present their project to a new panel of judges. Please click here for final results. This photo shows the contestants from Milk River at the Calgary Zoo, venue for the oral part of the contest: l to r, Trey Blackmer, Sierra Harty, Jace Doenz, Tierra Maggrah, Jalen Hulit and Maya DeGrood. In 2011, two students from Erle Rivers School, Jessie Tollestrup and Jodi Doenz participated in the contest and were among the winners who were announced May 1st at the 2011 final competition.
Education in Xeriscape Landscapes
Derived from the Greek word xeros, meaning dry, when combined with landscape it means water efficient landscape design and practice. This gardening strategy allows the home or business owner to create and maintain a varied and colorful landscape using drought tolerant plants. The MRWCC hosted a Prairie Landscape and Garden Workshop and Tour on September 19, 2009. Forty participants received instruction on the 7 principles of xeriscaping from a professional landscape designer and then toured 4 homes in Lethbridge that have successfully implemented a xeriscape landscape plan (photo to the right). A hands-on follow-up workshop was held on February 20, 2010 with Steve MacRae of Prairie Xeriscape Design, Lethbridge. Steve discussed xeriscape principles and practices and met with each landowner to review the designs that they had prepared prior to the workshop.
Urban Water Conservation Survey
Water shortages in southern Alberta and elsewhere have prompted many municipalities to consider the wise and efficient use of water. Understanding how the water resource is viewed and how it is used by communities in the Milk River watershed is one of the goals of the MRWCC. To better understand water use, the MRWCC will be conducting a survey within the Town of Milk River and Village of Coutts during the daytime and early evening hours from June 23 to 25. Surveys will be delivered to local businesses prior to these dates and collected during this timeframe. The results will be used to develop a water conservation strategy which is one of the elements to be addressed in the Milk River Integrated Watershed Management Plan. The results will also facilitate the development of programs and educational material that will be practical and effective for watershed residents.