Monday, 27 May 2013 12:58

Southern Albertans in the running for Emerald Awards

Written by  Stephanie Labbe
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Jalen Hulit of Coutts has been named a finalist for the Emerald Awards for his commitment to and work done in the area of the environment. He helps out on his family ranch and hopes to go to college or university  to study in the science field and later work at a zoo. Jalen Hulit of Coutts has been named a finalist for the Emerald Awards for his commitment to and work done in the area of the environment. He helps out on his family ranch and hopes to go to college or university to study in the science field and later work at a zoo. Photo submitted

The Emerald Awards program has recognized two locals for their hard work and dedication to the environment.


Coutts’ Jalen Hulit has been named a finalist in the youth category and Road Watch in the Pass has been named a finalist under the community group category.
Emmy Stuebing, the executive director for the Alberta Emerald Foundation, says anyone can be nominated or nominate themselves for the awards.
“Nominations are open at the beginning of November and close the end of February. This year, we received a record number of nominations (123) in our 11 categories,” states Stuebing in an email interview.
Following the closure of the nominations, nine expert judges review all nominations. Each nomination is evaluated by each judge.
“The judges make their own rankings and then meet for two days of deliberations in early April during which time the final decisions are made. We then announce the finalists. From there, we work on creating a video about each finalist project. (These videos are in production right now). Then, all finalists are invited to the Emerald Awards show on June 6 in Edmonton, at which time the recipients are announced,” says Stuebing.
Generally, the winners of the awards receive recognition that they have won an Emerald Award. This can help create a platform for sharing stories. However, Education and Youth category winners receive cash prizes.
The total number of winners is being kept a secret until June 6, but Stuebing was able to share with Prairie Post West there will be at least one recipient for each of the 11 categories.
“It is incredibly inspiring to learn about some of our province’s environmental leaders each year,” says Stuebing.
There’s no other awards program such as this one across Canada. The Emerald Awards program is used to recognize ‘unsung heroes’ of Alberta.
Stuebing says Alberta seems to have a poor reputation for environmental stewardship, but this awards program helps get some good news out there.
One of the judges comments regarding Hulit’s nomination states, “He is dedicated. He is working with the community.”
Hulit was nominated for his involvement with environmental groups and his hard work on his family ranch located along the north slopes of the Sweet Grass Hills.
Hulit has participated in the Southern Alberta Youth Range Days (YRD) program for the past three years.
He received the ‘top hand’ award in 2012 for his understanding, leadership and the highest performance in workbook activities throughout the YRD event. Prior to that, Hulit won the ‘Caring for our Watersheds’ contest. He created a project to wrap cottonwood seedlings along the Milk River, which was to protect against wildlife and beaver damage.
“I was very happy just to be nominated for this award. Now to be a finalist is very exciting for me,” said Hulit in an email interview about how it feels to be a finalist.
The 16-year-old plans on going to school to study in the science field after graduation. He would like to work in a zoo.
He enjoys farming due to all the knowledge he garners from it. He continues to learn about good stewardship of the land. Hulit’s farm includes both grain and cattle.
“It is where I first developed my interest in animals and the land that sustains them,” added Hulit.
Wining this award would mean a lot to Hulit.
“It would be a great honour to win. It is very gratifying knowing that the things that I have done are having a positive impact on the environment and the future of our family farm.”
The Road Watch in the Pass is a not-for-profit group that observes and detects how many wildlife are killed in road collisions every year along Highway 3.
It began in 2004 by the Miistakis Institute for the Rockies. However, the Institute stopped financially supporting the group in 2010.
Rob and Lorette Schauefle kept the program running as volunteers and the group was nominated for the work members do.
The study area for Road Watch in the Crowsnest Pass travels along Highway 3 from the top of the Lundbreck Hill to the B.C. border.
If people see wildlife on or near the highway or Canadian Railway lines, they are asked to later log onto the Road Watch website and mark where the animals were seen. There’s a short questionnaire asking for information regarding the wildlife.
Since 2004, Road Watch has collected more than 5,000 sightings. Those sightings are used to map out wildlife crossings.
“The reason Road Watch is important is, because that data will be used to pinpoint where these wildlife crossings are and hopefully be used, so they can put wildlife crossing structures and mitigation strategies in place,” says Rob Schauefle.
He and his wife were nominated for the Emerald award, because for the last three years, they have been running Road Watch on a volunteer basis. The Miistakis Institute stopped funding Road Watch in the Pass because the funding source dried up. The Institute began having a hard time getting grants for the program.
“We all thought it was important enough to keep going,” says Schauefle.
He adds Miistakis officials keep the website up and running and will continue to do so.
“It’s actually really exciting. It’s something that doesn’t usually happen to us and it’s really exciting,” says Schauefle about how it feels to be a finalist for the Emerald Awards.
He is glad to see the publicity Road Watch in the Pass will garner thanks to the award nomination.
Anyone wishing to check out the website or report wildlife can visit: http://www.rockies.ca/roadwatch/.

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