After 55,000 votes, we have our Community Champions

Image of young child picking up trash on a Vancouver beach
In one of this year's winning videos, a young girl engages the audience as narrator and star of The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation's (SPEC) video that outlines the organization's efforts, including beach cleanups.

2013 champions are working across the province to make B.C. more sustainable

After raking in more than 55,000 votes between them, this year's Community Champions have been chosen.

Three of the 2013 champions were selected by popular vote, and a judging panel from the Community Champions program determined the other two winners.

From a community bus to an innovative child care society, the successful Champions are a model of sustainable thinking in B.C. Check out what this year's Champions plan to do with their $10,000 conservation awards.

Spare Time Child Care Society aims to grow food (and young minds)

Based in Vancouver, this non-profit, parent-run society is focused on delivering affordable child care for families, with a strong belief in sustainability and education.

From recycling and being Power Smart in their own centres to growing their own food, Spare Time knows the value of teaching sustainability to the young.

One of the projects they have planned for the award is to create another vegetable garden, to help teach kids about the importance of conservation and sustainability.

YesBC (Youth for Environmental Stewardship) supports schools across B.C.

Since 2008, more than 5,000 B.C. kids have learned about the environment through workshops, presentations, conferences and training that YES provides to schools. They believe in empowering youth as the next environmental leaders, supporting environmental clubs, land stewardship, tree planting activities, school gardens and camping programs.

With their conservation award, YES will expand their signature events, the Youth Climate Action Summit and Off the Grid Music Festival, bringing together communities, government, academics and students in events powered by pedal and solar power.

Society Promoting Ethical Conservation (SPEC) not new to sustainability scene

For almost 50 years, the people at SPEC have been working to protect and conserve the environment in B.C. Based in Vancouver, their work began focusing on everything from pesticides to nuclear weapons and recycling.

Today, their focus is on sustainable energy and food security, building renewable energy literacy and teaching kids about growing food through gardens at schools.

More than 1,200 students take part in SPEC programming each year, and with their conservation award, SPEC plans to take multicultural learning and language barriers to increase the scope of their program.

GERTIE is the greenest option going for Gabriola Island residents

On Gabriola Island, the Island Futures Society is working to make life more sustainable, one step at a time. This past summer, they tackled greenhouse gas emissions by launching a public bus service, affectionately known as GERTIE (Gabriola Environmentally Responsible Trans-island Express). Since most of Gabriola's GHG emissions come from vehicle use, getting cars off the road by using GERTIE can help bring down their overall environmental impact.

With their award funding, Island Futures plans to improve and expand the service to offer more trips and deliver better service to the popular ferry terminal.

ECO-BLAST camp bring kids together with song, dance, and art

The Fresh Outlook Foundation knows the power of engaging kids with nature in a creative way. Through their popular events like the REEL Change Film Festival, they've been inspiring a love of nature and the outdoors for years.

And their newest event, the ECO-BLAST Kids Camp and Concert, will keep that tradition going. Campers will learn about nature through song and dance with local artists, and finish off by performing their own concert focused on nature and sustainability.

More than 140 classrooms across B.C. shared their support

Schools across the province had a chance to take part in the program too. By voting for their favourite finalist online, and showing how that finalist had inspired them, classes were eligible to win $1,000 for their own conservation projects.

We received over 140 classroom supports, and 25 lucky classes were selected in a random draw from all the entries.