Vote today: 15 B.C. non-profits in running for $10,000 awards

Vote today: 15 B.C. non-profits in running for $10,000 awards
Invermere-based Groundswell Network Society is among the 15 semi-finalists for this year's Community Champions conservation awards. Groundswell's executive director Bill Swan is shown here in a video showcasing a solar panel project.

View videos of semi-finalists for Community Champions conservation awards

What do spawning fish, used clothing, kids on bikes and less-than-perfect cucumbers have in common?

They're all key elements in videos, submitted by not-for-profit local groups across B.C., that have been short-listed to be in the running in BC Hydro's Community Champions program. Fifteen semi-finalists are vying for five $10,000 conservation awards for 2015, and you can help determine the winners by voting today.

Voting by the public opened on October 15, 2015 and runs through until November 30, 2015. So if you haven't already voted, please vote for a not-for-profit after viewing this year's semi-finalists on our Community Champions site.

And if you're a student, a parent or a kid who wants to get involved, get a classroom in on the voting. Classes who choose a semi-finalist to support can receive a $1,000 award for their school conservation project.

Vancouver bike shop that donates bikes in running for $10,000 award

How the five winners are chosen

The three semi-finalists who get the greatest number of public votes at the close of the November 30 voting period earn $10,000 awards. And a judging panel makes the choice of the other two winners.

This year's semi-finalists

Here's a quick look at the semi-finalists list for 2015:

  • Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST), which has been promoting cycling and other forms of sustainable transportation in the Lower Mainland since 1991. Their video showcases their bike valet initiative, which offers professional, secure, coat-check style bicycle parking at a variety of events in and around Metro Vancouver. View the video
  • Valley Permaculture Guild is a Chilliwack-based initiative that gathers and delivers fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be wasted or composted and delivers it to a local food bank to feed local families. View the video
  • Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society (Mossom Creek Hatchery & Education Centre), which started as a high school club in Port Moody and is dedicated to protecting salmon and educating the public with hands-on salmon enhancement activities. View the video
  • Cranbrook Food Action Committee, which focusses on food security in the Cranbrook area and continues to expand programs including a public produce food garden. Future plans include construction of a commercial-grade community kitchen. View the video
  • Stewardship Pemberton Society focusses on connecting community, people and nature. They encourage protection, restoration, and long term sustainability of the natural environment through educational initiatives including a youth mentorship program. View the video
  • Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning provides outdoor experiential learning programming for elementary students. Their core mission is to get people outside learning about ecology and human history. View the video
  • HUB aims to make cycling better through education, action and events in the Vancouver area. HUB's Bike to School program offers cycling instruction and activities for Grades 2 and up. View the video
  • North Shore Disability Resource Centre's G.A.R.D.E.N. project is a small community garden in which volunteers, including people with disabilities and their families, nurture, harvest, cook and can produce from the garden. View the video
  • Sooke Family Resource Society offers a wide variety of programs for family services and community living, including a clothing exchange initiative. View the video
  • PEDAL is a non-profit society that oversees several bicycle related projects in the Vancouver area, including Our Community Bikes, a bike shop that provides stands, tools and trained mechanics to help with do-it-yourself bike repair. View the video
  • The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC), founded in 1969, addresses environmental issues in British Columbia, with a particular focus on urban communities in the Lower Mainland and the Georgia Basin. SPEC works with citizens, government and industry to reach their goal of creating a truly healthy, liveable environment. View the video
  • Groundswell Network Society, based in the Canadian Rockies, promotes sustainability initiatives including a community greenhouse, composting services, air travel carbon offsets and consultation on renewable energy technologies. View the video
  • Treehouse Housing Association's priority is affordable childcare in Telkwa, B.C. The Ark Daycare Centre, situated in a historic church building, offersquality childcare in a natural environment. View the video
  • A Rocha Canada, is the Canadian chapter of an international Christian organization that engages in scientific research, environmental education, community-based conservation projects and sustainable agriculture. A Rocha's field study centres offer year-round environmental education opportunities for school groups. View the video
  • West Kootenay EcoSociety seeks to protect the natural environment while building a just and sustainable post-carbon world. Their initiatives include the promotion of local markets and festivals, environmental education and Kootenay Rideshare, which helps facilitate travel and transportation of goods across the Kootenay region and beyond. View the video

2014: Elementary school wins $1,000 for worm composting program

Steve Coffin's Grade 3 and 4 class at Sir John Franklin Elementary School in Vancouver received $1,000 last year as part of a random draw offered to schools that voted for one of our 15 semi-finalists.

The school used the funds to build a worm composting box, complete with worm bins and gardening tools. The worms feast on lunchbox scraps like apple cores, sandwich experiments, and discarded veggies. Teacher Steve Coffin refers to the worm castings used on the school garden as "Black Gold".

"The Community Champions program has enriched the learning experience for my students by offering interactive tools and videos," said Coffin.

The class also organized a field trip to the City of Vancouver's Compost Demonstration Garden to learn how worms decompose organic waste.

Fast forward one year, Coffin's class leads a compost initiative that rallies students to collect vegetable and fruit scraps for their school garden. Coffin's students are committed to keeping the initiative going by transferring the composting bags from classrooms to the worm composting box.