The power is yours: vote for the 2014 Community Champions

Image of a GERTIE bus
GERTIE (Gabriola Environmentally Responsible Trans-island Express) is a public bus service and pilot project. Island Futures, the Gabriola-based, registered non-profit society which facilitates the waste vegetable oil-powered GERTIE bus system, won a 2013 BC Hydro Community Champions award.

$10,000 donation to non-profit organizations comes down to public vote

Our call for Community Champions has been answered. Non-profit organizations from across British Columbia have submitted their videos, showing how they make a positive difference towards sustainability and conservation in their local communities.

Over the next two weeks, up to 15 organizations will be selected as semi-finalists by a panel of judges, based on their contributions and support of sustainability, energy efficiency, energy conservation, community, youth and schools.

Once finalists are determined, the power will shift to you.

We need your votes. Starting October 15, check out the semi-finalist videos, and choose your favourite organization to help them win a $10,000 donation. You can vote for your favourites every day from October 15 to November 30.

Support the group you find most inspiring by sharing their video on Facebook and Twitter. Encourage your network to vote and join the conversation using the hashtag #BCHCommunityChampions.

$1,000 conservation award for classrooms

School classrooms from across the province have the opportunity to participate in our Community Champions program, with an opportunity to win a $1,000 conservation award.

It's easy. To help get you started, BC Hydro's Schools Program has developed lesson plans for kindergarten to grade 12 students, which will help to introduce the concepts of sustainability to your students. These have been developed for primary, intermediate and secondary students, in connection with their curriculum.

The lesson plans will encourage students to explore what it means to be a champion, how they can work together to take care of the environment, and it will help classrooms decide on the sustainability project they would like to complete.

Then, between October 15 and November 30, check out the Community Champions semi-finalist videos online, and select which organization your class is choosing to support, and discuss how the group is benefiting the community.

Finally, the teachers can officially show their support online. Tell us how the video has inspired, motivated and influenced your own classroom conservation project by submitting a brief overview of how the $1,000 award would benefit your own sustainability project, the school and the environment.

Up to 25 classrooms will be selected through a random draw to win $1,000 to help with their own project and demonstrate commitment to sustainability and conservation. Winners will be announced by December 8, 2014.

The Environmental Youth Alliance working on their bee garden at Oak Meadows Park.

Giving back to the school, community, and the bees

Need some inspiration to help come up with a sustainability project for your classroom?

Madame Ingrid De Klerk's grade 4 class, from T.M. Roberts Elementary School in Cranbrook, used their $1,000 conservation award to support a project for bees. The class took their inspiration from 2013 Community Champions finalist, the Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network.

Given the fact that Cranbrook is a pretty dry city, the students researched which plants would grow in their climate, and which plants would be most beneficial for the bees. The class developed a garden and planted pollinating flowers to attract the bees, as well as some edible plants for the students to enjoy as well.

One class at Canalta Elementary School in Dawson Creek thought too much water was being wasted in the school washrooms. Feeling inspired by last year's Community Champions, the class pledged to use their conservation award to retrofit the washrooms with water saving taps and motion sensor faucets that turn on and off on their own.

For more thought-starters, just take a look at last year's conservation award recipients.

To get started, and learn more, visit our Community Champions website.