WOLFVILLE – If you want to save the planet, start with your own backyard.
This was one of the main messages received at a recent environmental summit hosted by The Gulf of Maine Institute Feb. 23 at Acadia, where students from Kings County Academy, Horton High School and Northeast Kings Education Centre heard community leaders and worked together on discussing their own backyards, potential problems, and how they could fix them.
Horton teacher Tracy Webb, the event’s lead organizer, saw it as an opportunity for students to get educated on just how important becoming stewards of the environment, and waterways in particular, really is.
“This was an opportunity for students to collaborate with GOMI on its first international project and to learn it’s not just the Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy – that entire body of water is so critically important to species, for fishing, for tourism,” she said.
Keeping focus local is key: Redden
Acadia biology professor Dr. Anna Redden was one of three speakers who educated the students about the waterways, challenges they are facing, and how getting involved helps.
Redden said environment clubs at schools are key to getting students interested and keeping them involved.
“It’s about getting students to spend more time outside, observing and asking questions about what’s happening, and why,” she said.
“Everything flows out into bigger water bodies – it’s like the kitchen sink, and it’s difficult to fix that, but understanding how to help locally is key.”
After listening to several presentations, students formed groups and talked about what the day meant to them.
Grade nine Northeast Kings Education Centre student Naomi DePutter, who is also a member of the school’s environment club, said sitting down and listening to people’s own experiences was eye opening for her and the other students.
“Seeing the different perspectives and hearing about the detriments of littering and global warming is cool. This has been talked about since I was little, but it’s never really gone into depth,” she said.
“Today we sat down and listened to what people had to say.”
Becoming the solution
Another group member, grade 8 KCA student Nora Kaizer, said talking with students from the same general area made her feel like change could really happen.
“We are close together and we share an area, so to get together and hear these ideas and be able to keep it going together,” she said.
Webb said she felt inspired while listening to the students putting their heads together to brainstorm action plans.
She said she hopes students continue work in environment clubs and become even more aware of the fact that they themselves can be the solution.
“They can make an impact, and they do have a voice. They need to use that voice because … if we don’t protect these resources, we’re not going to have them,” she said.