CASE STUDY: Environmental Action Civics in Action

The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) wanted to shift their existing environmental education programming to incorporate more civic experiences for young people. In 2020-2021, the UTRCA embarked on the “GREEN Leaders Initiative.” This is a case study of one of the grade 7 classes.

“Students found the program valuable because they were dealing with an issue that directly related to them and their community. They learned how to research an environmental problem, come up with guiding questions and work together to problem solve. They were able to confidently contact stakeholders and set up meetings to learn how they could work together on an issue. In the end, students were able to see their efforts in action and felt rewarded by seeing their plan to the end. Students loved being able to share their work with other students during the summit and felt valued by various stakeholders in attendance.”


The inventory step of the process posed challenges due to pandemic restrictions. Without field trip options available, the program team pivoted to develop alternative inventories and settled on 3 activities that incorporated individual, group, and class work.

NEIGHBORHOOD WALK: Students were tasked with walking around their neighborhoods to inventory local environmental issues they saw.

PHOTO BRAINSTORMING: Classes were given a series of photos of urban and rural scenes. In groups the students brainstormed environmental issues that they saw or inferred from the photos.

MEDIA SEARCH: Students were asked to perform individual media searches for local environmental issues


Students created a Jamboard to list all the issues they discovered during their inventories. A final vote resulted in the issue: Litter from single-use Covid Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

After extensive research and discussion with stakeholders, the class chose a goal of “reduce littering of single-use masks in public spaces” and selected two strategies for achieving this goal:

1. Education & Awareness

2. Community Engagement

The class conducted some further research into their issue and developed a list of possible action projects. They used a criteria-based approach to narrow their list down and used dot voting to rank their top 7 potential actions.


Raise money to buy additional PPE recovery bins for use in their school in the fall or to donate to local businesses as a way to raise community awareness.

Present to their school on the issues related to single-use mask litter and why recovery is beneficial.

Design signs to accompany the recovery boxes to encourage their use.

At the June 2021 Green Leaders Initiative Student Summit, the class presented their issue and action project plans to other Green Leaders classes and to an environmental sector stakeholder, during a synchronous session.

Special thanks:

Written by: Upper Thames River Conservation Authority

Edited by: Earth Force

Funding provided by: Thames Valley District School Board & Start.ca

Partners: Earth Force, City of London, City of Woodstock, Earth Force, London Environmental Network, Thames Talbot Land Trust

Educator: Adam Nemeth

Written by -

Hayley Valley, Earth Force's Communications Manager, joined Earth Force in 2010 and has since held too many roles to count - all drawing on her experience in communicating Earth Force's commitment to environmental action civics. When she’s not knee-deep in Google Docs, you’ll find her chasing her two boys around.

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