May 26th, 2018

Great watershed ideas earn prizes for Crescent Heights students

By Peggy Revell on May 16, 2018.

SUBMITTED PHOTO
Carter Willkinghoff accepts a cheque for his fifth-place finish in the Caring for Our Watersheds initiative. Wilkinghoff's proposal included working to reduce the amount of barbed wire used, as it has a deadly impact on wildlife.


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From bouncing the barbed wire to maximizing mulch —Grade 8 students from Crescent Heights High School shined in a competition which asked youth to come up with ways to help the South Saskatchewan watershed.

“Thousands of animals get killed by barbed wire each year,” said Carter Wilkinghoff, whose project for the “Caring for Our Watersheds” initiative was about working to reduce the use of barbed wire in rural areas.

Wilkinghoff’s project won fifth place, while a fellow Grade 8 team of Zoey Brevik, Ella Mullin and Berlin Mastel were awarded eighth place after they travelled to Calgary to present their proposals to judges, and came home with cash prizes.

Part of the proposal required that students have “small and obtainable goals” — for Wilkinghoff, he hopes this includes having barbed wire removed in the part of the city which is left of Brier Park Road N.W.

And he hopes that farmers and ranchers will learn how removing — or finding alternatives to — barbed wire will benefit the local ecosystem, as many endangered and migratory animals including pronghorn antelope, western meadowlark and shorteared owl die after getting caught in barbed wire.

A 2006 Utah State University study found that in 600 miles of barbed wire, 69 per cent of juvenile deer and 77 per cent of adult deer died by getting caught in barbed wire, said Wilkinghoff.

Magic mulch

It’s all about promoting mulch for the team of Brevik, Mullin and Mastel.

“Our project was about replacing the top layer of soil with mulch to help retain water in gardens,” said Mastel.

“And plant flowers for the bee problem,” said Mullin.

Mulch helps to conserve water, said Brevik —with 26 per cent more water retained in the soil by putting down the a mulch layer.

“It’s really easy to include this project into gardens,” said Brevik.

The group’s goal is to put mulch in the school garden, as well as plant flowers that will attract pollinators.

They’ll be doing school fundraisers to help cover the costs, while the school principal has kicked in $200 — and will be getting the school’s student leadership on board to help with the bed upkeep. They also hope to expand the project to get mulch into nearby community garden and other locations around the city.

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