The innovations of Cochrane-based environmental organizations continue to be recognized by Alberta Emerald Foundation.

Alberta Tomorrow, Lives with Less Plastic, and the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation have all been shortlisted for Emerald Awards. 

Both Jennifer Janzen and her daughter Jade have been nominated in two separate categories.

Alberta Tomorrow has been shortlisted in the public engagement and outreach category.

Tomorrow FoundationThe Alberta Tomorrow simulator is an educational tool for both students and adults. (Alberta Tomorrow Facebook)

The Alberta Tomorrow simulator is an educational tool that helps students and adults understand the process of sustainable planning to balance land uses such as agriculture, oil and gas, and forestry with ecological integrity. By looking at past and present landscape imagery, the users can see changes that have taken place in the past. You can also collect, geotag and save water sampling data, images, video, and other observations.

Jade Janzen and Lives with Less Plastic have been nominated in the youth category.

Founded by Jade Janzen, Lives with Less Plastic aims to educate people about their environmental footprints and help them reduce them for the betterment of the environment and to live a life with less plastic.

Janzen first advocated for the ban of single-use plastic bags and straws in the community at age 13 by meeting with town council, town officials, and local businesses. 

She went on to create Lives with Less Plastic and recruited other interested youth. It continues to expand upon its offering of educational tools.

Jade JanzenA still of Jade Janzen from the film "Recycling in Alberta."

The organization has completed cleanups in the Quarry commercial sector and was recently featured in the documentary "Recycling in Alberta." They've also invited residents to participate in a Plastic Less August Challenge and a recent Earth Week Challenge.

The Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation (GRPF) has been shortlisted in the land category for its ongoing grassland education.

The GRPF is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

Glenbow Ranch Provincial ParkGlenbow Ranch Provincial Park

For 10 years, they have worked tirelessly to educate visitors, young and old, about grassland ecosystems. From electric golf cart tours to Explore Grasslands Programming for children to interpretive signage, it strives to teach all about our fascinating and fragile grassland ecosystem.

Each Emerald Award recipient receives a $2,000 grant to support the continuation of their environmental work or they can donate to an environmental charity of their choice.

Gregory Caswell, Alberta Emerald Foundation executive director,  says Cochrane innovations in recent years have been strongly represented at the Emerald Awards and continue to amaze and inspire others.

"What's exciting for us to be able to recognize projects like the ones coming out of Cochrane is that a lot of work is happening in the rural communities around our province, and it's exciting to be able to recognize that work because oftentimes in the past it seems to have been very focused on the two major centres in our province."

While 30th anniversary of the awards is a huge moment for the organization, he says it almost feels like the start of the conversation.

"The conversation about the environment and climate change in our province has always been an interesting one, but definitely over the recent years the conversation has become front and centre and the amount of innovation and leadership in all our sectors in regards to our environment and climate change over the last 30 years is very exciting to see."

The virtual 30th annual awards ceremony takes place on June 1 starting at 4 p.m.

The awards ceremony begins with a smudging ceremony by our host, Hunter Cardinal of Naheyawin. The awards will also feature a performance of Vivaldi's "Winter" by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and a spoken-word performance by Nisha Patel, the City of Edmonton’s Poet Laureate.

This year's event will be hosted online using GreenShows, which allows the foundation to host the Emerald Awards in a more sustainable way. Carbon emissions are saved through the lack of travel to the event, food waste is nixed due to the absence of catering, and carbon offsets are provided by GreenShows at a rate of 1kg per hour per attendee.

Tickets are available through CanadaHelps until May 28 and can be purchased for free using the code “FRIEND” at checkout. Click here to get your ticket.

If you miss the ticket deadline you're still able to view the awards ceremony on Alberta Emerald's Facebook page here.

The Emerald Awards showcase those who raise the bar in addressing local, regional, and global environmental and climate issues. In doing so, a standard of excellence is set that inspires others in their own practices.

There have been numerous award recipients from the Cochrane area. The most recent awards were presented to the Manachaban's W.I.L.D. program in the education category, and the Cochrane High's sustainable development committee received the climate change challenge award.