The Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Awards are an annual celebration of environmental achievements in our province, and help to raise awareness of the individuals, groups, and businesses that are taking action to protect and sustain our environment.

It is a joint initiative sponsored by the Department of Environment and Conservation, the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Women’s Institutes.

This year’s recipients were:

Bethany Downer: Individual

“Bethany Downer, the founder and president of One Step Shoe Recycling, is taking great strides towards protecting the environment and helping others in the community. Inspired to make a positive difference in the world, Bethany founded the non-profit organization in September 2014 with a goal to collect 100 pairs of shoes and distribute them to those less fortunate within her community. Word quickly spread about Bethany and her amazing cause and One Step soon began receiving donation requests from organizations across the country. Seizing this opportunity to not only collect shoes but also increase awareness about sustainable consumerism, Bethany quickly expanded the organization’s reach and began sending shoes across Canada and around the world. Over the past 10 months, Bethany has worked tirelessly to turn her combined passion for social justice and environmental sustainability into reality. As a result, she and her team of foot soldiers have collected over 13,000 pairs of shoes and diverted over 10,000 pounds of waste from landfills. Bethany has also been named to Canada’s Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalists. She demonstrates true environmental leadership and we should all be encouraged to follow in her footsteps.”

Brendan Kelly: Youth

“Brendan Kelly is an 18-year-old conservationist as well as an aspiring wildlife photographer located in Paradise. He has shown tremendous initiative in undertaking conservation activities that enhance and protect Newfoundland and Labrador’s environment. Since 2005, Brendan has built and installed wooden nest boxes and platform houses for ducks, boreal owls, tree swallows, northern flickers, goldeneyes and various other species. These boxes provide nesting habitat for wildlife when suitable habitat is scarce. Brendan has placed more than 80 of these structures around the province. Recently, he partnered with the Department of Natural Resources to place boxes throughout Labrador. Brendan has also helped with wetland clean ups in collaboration with Newfoundland Waterfowlers, known as Totally Outdoors NL. Brendan has been recognized by Ducks Unlimited both nationally as a “Newalta Wetland Hero” and locally as “Rookie Volunteer of the Year.” Not only does Brendan work to enhance the habitat for wildlife in the province, he is also committed to protecting wildlife. Brendan has been working with the Town of Paradise to move ahead with the signing of a Municipal Wetland Stewardship Agreement with the province to protect wetland habitat in the community. Brendan creates public awareness about his activities on his website This site shows the projects he has been working on and the wildlife he has encountered. His passion for environmental conservation will continue as he starts the Fish and Wildlife Technician program at College of the North Atlantic in Corner Brook this fall. Brendan Kelly’s enthusiasm and dedication to conservation help sustain Newfoundland and Labrador’s environment.”

Macdonald Drive Junior High: School

“The Macdonald Drive Junior High Green Team is transforming their school into an eco-friendly learning environment through projects such as a Halloween eco-scary costume contest; creating art made from recycled materials; placing “switch off labels” on light switches; encouraging waste-free lunch; promoting a climate change poster contest; and recycling bottles, binders, paper, cell phones and newspaper. The team met their goal of 100 “green” activities in the 2014-15 school year. Two Grade 9 students in particular, Maura Balch and Jamil Kabir, continue to give much of their free time to environmentally-friendly activities. Maura is working closely with her environmental lead teacher, Rose Drover, on an outdoor classroom seating area. The project involves the planting of fall, spring and summer bulbs plus the building of benches to place outside to create seating for students. This will enhance the school landscape and create a peaceful environment for teachers to use for instruction outside the classroom. Students can also enjoy the natural setting during outdoor activities. In keeping with the green theme, the beverage recycling program continues with a great effort from Jamil Kabir, a Grade 9 challenging needs student. In collaboration with teacher Chris Devine, Jamil works diligently preparing the school’s beverage containers for recycling. Beverage containers are collected from the school cafeteria, hallways and classrooms on a daily basis and recycling containers are collected from the school drop-off. Environmental projects are ongoing as the students continue to enhance the beauty of Macdonald Drive Junior High.”

Restoration of Labrador Exploration Sites (ROLES) Project: Organization

“The Restoration of Labrador Exploration Sites (ROLES) Inc. received the 2015 NL Environmental Award in the category of Community Group or Organization. The award is given to any group who has demonstrably taken action to enhance the environment, while creating public education/awareness and involvement at the same time. The ROLES Project was initiated by Altius Minerals in 2012. The project aims to identify, inspect, and restore abandoned mineral exploration sites throughout Labrador. It has removed hazardous material from 11 high priority sites — an effort that has included eradicating and removing more than 14,000 litres of diesel and gasoline, 260 fuel drums, and 24 large propane cylinders. The aging drums had been needlessly leaking contaminates, and would have kept doing so had ROLES not intervened. Much of this material was received by Vale at their Voisey’s Bay Mine where it was incorporated into their waste management program for proper disposal. ROLES have now set their sights on a large site on the shore of Okak Bay, Northern Labrador. It contains 123 fuel drums. They hope to attract additional funding to address remaining abandoned sites in the Central Mineral Belt (central Labrador) and Labrador West in coming years.”

The Town of Carmanville Habitat Committee: Municipality

“The Town of Carmanville is a community of 727 people located on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. In 1995, council and staff signed a municipal habitat stewardship agreement with the Provincial Government in which they agreed to work together to conserve valuable wetland and wildlife habitat found on Crown land within their planning boundaries.This agreement has been formally expanded twice since that time to include additional habitat in 1996 and 2007. The habitat committee was formed to oversee the implementation of the agreement and an associated Habitat Conservation Plan. An updated version of this plan was drafted and approved by council in the fall of 2013. The habitat committee has been involved in ongoing wildlife conservation and community engagement projects. This past year, the committee engaged in a project with Ducks Unlimited Canada to place nesting shelters on the offshore Penguin Islands. The wooden shelters provide time to allow the chicks to become more mature before they take to the water thus giving them a greater chance for survival. The technique has been demonstrated to be highly successful in reducing chick mortality.The Carmanville Habitat Committee is also known for promoting environmental awareness at its Interpretation Centre while promoting its walking trail located on Route 330. With a total of four kilometres bordering the beautiful Carmanville Pond, it makes for a true paradise for hikers, birdwatchers and photographers alike.”

Newfoundland Power Inc.: Business

“Newfoundland Power Inc. operates an integrated generation, transmission and distribution system throughout the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador. The company serves approximately 259,000 customers, 87 per cent of all electricity consumers in the province, and operates their day-to-day activities in an environmentally responsible manner.Newfoundland Power plays a leadership role in supporting projects that enhance green spaces in communities and in creating public awareness about the importance of preserving the environment for future generations. A key focus of Newfoundland Power’s investment in the community centres on minimizing its environmental footprint. This has been accomplished through the company’s Environmental Commitment Program, primarily through its EnviroFest initiative. Over its 18-year history, the employee-driven EnviroFest annually offers hands-on support for initiatives that encourage positive environmental action. The company has partnered with more than 300 community groups and schools, completed approximately 85 environmental projects, planted nearly 700 trees, and inspired thousands of participants each year to take better care of our environment. In 2014, Newfoundland Power redesigned its EnviroFest initiative and invited community groups to submit proposals for grants towards environmentally-friendly projects. Six community environmental improvement projects totalling $25,000 have been selected for 2015. In addition to promoting general environmental awareness, Newfoundland Power employees support environmental enhancement through corporate-sponsored programs such as the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s Fish Friends program being delivered by the Suncor Energy Fluvarium and the Tree Canada partnership focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Newfoundland Power also recognizes a strong connection between the environment and energy efficiency. Since 2009, total energy savings has been approximately 144 GWhs – enough savings to power a town the size of Deer Lake for three years.”

Robert Schmiedendorf: Lifetime Achievement

“Robert Schmiedendorf is well known in the Town of Flatrock for his environmental commitment and dedication to the community. Bob has a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and Environmental Management and a Minor in Parks and Wilderness. Mr. Schmiedendorf currently sits on the Town of Flatrock Council and is the go to member when it comes to environmental issues. He is always available to meet with concerned residents and government officials regarding the environmental sustainability of Flatrock. He is responsible for establishing an environmental committee within the town. He also chairs monthly meetings about environmental protection of valuable wetlands, conservation of species and how the town can promote environmental awareness and get residents involved in the protection of the environment. Mr. Schmiedendorf played an important role in the signing of the Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreement between the Town of Flatrock and the Provincial Government which focuses on the importance of protecting wetlands, their habitat, and conservation of species. He organizes hikes throughout the scenic community while promoting the different vegetation, water bodies and land formations. Over the years, locally relevant trails have been expanded, widened and improved with commitment from Conservation Corp, Bob and committee members. Last month, the Stewardship Association of Municipalities Conference was held in Flatrock. Mr. Schmiedendorf was responsible for the planning of environmental activities and provided input into to the Community Sustainability Plan. The plan identifies the importance of striking a balance between development and environmental sustainability within the community. With his hard work, dedication and environmental commitment to the community, the town has preserved bodies of water, marsh areas, and is able to showcase its natural beauty more effectively. A big thank you to Mr. Schmiedendorf for his involvement over the last 10 years. Flatrock is cleaner, heathier, and environmentally more sustainable as a result of his commitment.”