The Earth Hour Race brings Edmonton’s post-secondary institutions together
The competition—and collaboration—is heating up at the third annual Earth Hour Race on March 25. This year, the Amazing Race–style event brings together several teams of two from MacEwan University, the University of Alberta and NAIT.
“The Earth Hour Race involves people throughout the Edmonton community in challenges that test their physical and intellectual skills,” says Kerstyn Lane, outreach and engagement coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. “We created these activities to promote sustainability education in fun and interactive ways, while raising awareness for issues related to environmental conservation and social justice.”
The competition has been fierce in previous years. “Framing participation in Earth Hour as a competition encourages people to participate and make a commitment to pursuing sustainable activities,” says Kayleigh Wiebe, a project planner with the U of A’s sustainability office.
The race is set to kick off Earth Hour, which promotes environmental conservationism with a worldwide campaign to shut off all non-essential electronics for one hour. (Anyone can participate by conserving energy from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on March 25.)
While the Earth Hour Race certainly highlights environmental wellness, Kerstyn says the learning outcomes of the event expand beyond the environment.
“The environmental side of sustainability is incredibly important, but we look at Earth Hour as an opportunity to raise awareness for economic, social and cultural well-being as well,” she says. “By including activities in the race that focus on these areas, we hope to make people aware of how sustainability can be applied to the economy and society in general.”
Collaboration between campuses allows this overall state of wellness to be promoted throughout the city.
NAIT, new to the race this year, is set to host a unique set of challenges, including a solar-powered car race, a turbine construction competition, a cell phone charging activity, and more.
Robert Akkerman, the chairman of the EnviroNAIT committee, says giving one of Canada’s largest polytechnics a seat at the table will bring a different viewpoint to the event.
“Our students certainly have a different perspective on green technology and environment,” he says. “NAIT students are the people that apply the technology that the university students might invent or develop, so I think it's a great marriage.”
That marriage also includes the U of A, which joined the race for the first time last year.
“Our involvement in Earth Hour is one of our biggest areas of off-campus collaboration,” says Kayleigh. “The greatest things we got out of collaborating on this competition last year were our ability to expand our reach of sustainability education and the ability to see what other campuses are doing to inspire sustainable change.”
That change often starts with students.
“The leaders of our future are going to be coming out of our post-secondary institutions,” says Robert. "I think it's great to inform and have a consistent message.”
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