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This article was published 26/6/2017 (1617 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Sisler High School student Carl Dizon was surprised to be one of three winners of the International Institute for Sustainable Development Experimental Lakes Area’s essay contest.
In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, the essay contest "How Can We Improve Canada’s Fresh Water?" prompted students to create solutions that address threats to a freshwater body’s ecosystem caused by humans, and how everyone can continue to use those resources for the next 150 years.
Since this was the first time Dizon was entering an essay contest, he set low expectations and looked at it as a learning experience "That if I go into other essay contests, I know what I’m getting into." The student spent his winter break researching for this contest and waited almost three months for an answer. By then, he assumed he hadn’t won.
"When the announcement came in, I was ecstatic," the Grade 11 student said.
Dizon was browsing the internet when he stumbled upon an IISD-ELA ad calling all high school students across the country to submit their essay and enter the contest. He thought it suited his scientific interests and decided to give it a shot.
Pauline Gerrard, deputy director of IISD-ELA, said they’ve been slowly building their work around education outreach because the Experimental Lakes Area is both an outstanding facility for the science, and also a significant opportunity to inform the general public about the value of fresh water and research. Therefore, they decided to engage high school students through the essay contest.
"We want students in Canada to be thinking about the fact that here in Canada we are lucky enough to live, for the most part, in a place with abundant fresh water," she explained. "But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will always be the case, or it will always be clean, or we can just ignore it.
"We need to spend time understanding our freshwater systems, understanding how they can be managed better and I think the more that is understood by students very young, as young as possible, then the better we can incorporate that into government planning and research."
It wasn’t until his Grades 9 and 10 that Dizon started to think about how the environment benefits people and developed a real interest for sciences. He claims it to be the closest thing to magic.
"As you grow older, you realize that magic isn’t real, but the closest thing you have to that is science," he explained. "And although science is not as showy as magic, the details and concepts within are very interesting. When you start to learn more about things related to science you understand more about the world and how we live."
Dizon’s topic was Lake Winnipeg’s issue concerning eutrophication — when there are excessive levels of nutrients in a body of water causing lack of oxygen. One of the points he made in his essay was that to treat it efficiently, resources should be focused in the Red River basin since it contributes to the majority of the eutrophication.
"This essay contest really changed my view of how the environment works," he added.
Community journalist — The Times
Ligia Braidotti was the community journalist for The Times until 2019.