Airdrie city councillor Tina Petrow is among ten individuals who are going to be judging the 32 annual Emerald Awards.

Since 1992, the Emerald Awards, which is hosted by the Alberta Emerald Foundation, strive to recognize the talent and innovations of those who are addressing environmental and climate change. The foundation lists that over 350 recipients and 850 finalists have been recognized. 

Councillor Petrow has been a member Alberta Municipality Sustainability and Environment Committee for the past three years. Two years ago she was asked to be a judge for the environmental awards handed out by that committee. From there she was asked if she would be willing to also be a judge for the Emerald Awards.

"I think we all have a very important role to play in this. I like to see projects that are actually moving the needle on environmental practices and sustainability and there are so many great projects going on," she said. "I tend to steer away from top-down policies when it comes to environmental practices. I love seeing grassroots projects coming to life."

An avid gardener, Petrow said initiatives that encourage residents to grow local produce and also engage youth in activities that help to underline sustainability are what she thinks are valuable ways a community can interact. When asked if she thinks Airdrie is heading down the right path when it comes to addressing environmental issues, she said there are many local groups that have a multitude of projects in the community that do just that and more.

"I think when we see our eco-youth awards at the city; when we see what's coming out of our schools as well with the youth: Airdrie does amazing things all the time."

Past local Emerald Award recipients from Airdrie included a 1997 award for a Grade 4 student from R.J. Hawkey School who was a part of Destination Conservation, an environmental education program involving over 250 Alberta Schools.

"Katie Pettafor, a Grade 4 student in Airdrie was named Destination Conservation's  Student of the Year. Katie was incredibly active in the school’s environmental projects including a lights off campaign, the adoption of endangered animals, paper recycling, waste-free lunches, and more," the Emerald Foundation stated on its website. 

Some years late, during the 18 annual awards, an Airdrie business model won.

"Treecycle"  LOGical Creations Ltd's furniture manufacturing process [and its] business model is based on the highest level of the pollution prevention hierarchy elimination at the source. The company implemented practices that eliminate pollution at source as they: recycle on-site; efficiently use and conserve natural resources; substitute "clean'" and green materials and feedstock."

While the shortlist for the 32 Annual Emerald Awards will be announced on March 23, Petrow was not able to divulge any details as to who may be on the list. Finalists in the awards receive a $2,000 grant to support their work or to donate to an environmental charity of their choice, among other accolades.

And as far as any secret gardening tips she may have up her sleeve, Petrow advised that you can always start a garden and if you're a beginner, try potatoes.

"Potatoes grow phenomenally here and they're easy to grow. They're easy to maintain, and you get the yield off of them at the end of the season," she said. "Potatoes actually helped to break up that clay and renew our soil to give us better-growing soil."

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