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Ottawa school group a finalist for international Volvo environmental award



OTTAWA, March 28, 2006 – A group from two Ottawa schools has earned a place as one of 10 finalists in the Volvo Adventure competition, an international environmental program organized by Volvo Car Corporation in partnership with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).


Educarium School and Jean Vanier Catholic School were chosen for their Macoun Marsh Biodiversity Project, a multi-faceted research and education initiative to study and preserve the wetlands of Macoun Marsh, a unique inner-city wetland in Ottawa located on the grounds of one of Canada’s most prominent cemeteries.


Five students from Educarium School and Jean Vanier Catholic School will travel to Gotëborg, Sweden, in May to present their project and action plan at the Volvo Adventure International Final. They will join over 100 students from around the world and have a chance to win a grant to continue their work.


“The Macoun Marsh Biodiversity project began three years ago,” explained science teacher and project leader Michael Leveille. “One grade 6 class from Educarium School was celebrating the biodiversity of the marsh next to the school in Beechwood Cemetery. The young people wanted to make a difference. Data needed to be collected. The community needed to be aware of the wetland system. The Beechwood Cemetery Foundation was very supportive.”


As the initiative grew, Leveille helped to put a committee together with representatives from Beechwood Cemetery, the Canadian Museum of Nature, Canadian Biodiversity Institute, Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum, students and teachers to develop a plan to strengthen the marsh’s ecology and promote conservation and biodiversity. Jean Vanier Catholic School joined the effort. Students from grades 6 and 7 began to research and document the biodiversity in the wetland through observations, photography, water tests and diaries.


In addition to the student journals – which have recorded over 870 species – the project has evolved to include presentations to wildlife groups and museums, clean-up drives, the installation of winter bird feeders and fundraising. A web site is currently under development.


Last year, the wetland area was officially named Macoun Marsh after the great Canadian naturalist, John Macoun, who is buried at Beechwood.


“The Volvo Adventure is an education program designed to heighten environmental awareness and encourage environmental activities among the decision makers of the future,” said Steve Blyth, president of Volvo Cars of Canada Corp. “The program was established in 2003 as part of our commitment to one of Volvo’s core values: the environment. This is the third time a group from Canada has won a place in the finals in Sweden, and we are very proud of our Canadian representation.”


Volvo Cars of Canada sponsors the trip for the students and their advisor.


Macoun Marsh team members Jessica Walsh Moreau, Alex Zylka, Katie Beauchamps, Christopher Weller and Donald Clysdale will attend the Volvo Adventure Award conference from May 12 to 17. They will take part in a full agenda of presentations, workshops and activities designed to give all the finalists an opportunity to share ideas with other young people.


Leveille learned of the Volvo Adventure International competition through another student project member, Harry Willis, when he participated in the UN International Children’s Conference in the summer of 2004.


The Volvo Adventure is open to young people around the world between the ages of 10 and 16 who are taking practical environmental action in their local communities. Entries are submitted online at Winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to the Volvo Adventure Finals Conference in Sweden where they present their project to a jury of international experts. Three prizes of $10,000, $6,000 or $4,000 are awarded to help fund the projects considered the best by the jury.


Volvo Cars of Canada Corp. is part of the Volvo Car Corporation of Göteborg, Sweden. The company provides marketing, sales, parts, service, technology and training support to the 43 Volvo automobile retailers across the country. The company’s product range includes the flagship S80 luxury sedan, the versatile V70 wagon, the S60 sports sedan, the compact and sporty S40 and V50, and an XC-line of vehicles that includes the rugged XC70 and the award-winning XC90 sport utility vehicle. For 2006, the company is proud to introduce the second-generation C70 convertible with a new retractable three piece hardtop.


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Anita Boudreau



Chad Heard




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