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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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Colbie13



Registered: July 2013
City/Town/Province: Calgary
Posts: 1
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When I first entered into high school it was an intimidating experience for me but it also made me very curious to try new opportunities. I have always been a shy person but I felt that it was time for me to break out of my shell and explore new interests, perhaps even make some new friends. I heard about a new club starting up at my school called the Eco Council and I was very intrigued. At our first meeting I met a great group of like-minded students who were just as excited about making our school more environmentally friendly as I was. Fast forward three years and I am now the Eco Council President and our club has grown to over twenty members. Some of the projects that our club has accomplished include bringing spider plants into our classrooms to clean the air of harmful toxins, hosting an Eco Carnival for Earth Week to raise awareness about environmental issues in a fun and engaging way, and creating posters to promote recycling in our school. Our most adventurous project that we have undertaken this past year was our school ground greening project.
In October of 2011 I was in an Eco Council meeting when I got an idea. We discovered the majority of students at our school were not aware of environmental issues, their personal impact on our planet, or even the existence of our club. Living in Calgary with the destructive tar sands just north, I thought it was especially important that we as citizens are attentive to our impacts on our environment and how we can make our impacts more positive. I thought that a terrific way for us to raise awareness in our school community would be to first start by getting students and staff outside and enjoying nature. Once they establish a personal connection with their environment, I was sure that everyone would become more conscientious and interested in protecting our planet and its biodiversity. At that moment in our Eco Council meeting our school ground greening project was born. I immediately volunteered to be the leader of the project and I was so excited and overwhelmed by all the possibilities for our project. I began by researching funding opportunities and talking to the business manager at our school to establish a budget. I came across a Canadian environmental organization that specifically provides grants to schools for greening projects with native species. It was exactly what we needed and I became determined to get this grant for our club. Unfortunately my determination blind-sided me and I attempted numerous times to complete the grant application on my own. After a third failed attempt I realized that something needed to change and I accepted the fact that I needed help from others. So at our following Eco Council meeting I created a grant application committee so that we could work together to submit one final application. After months of drawing site map plans, completing application forms and contacting local tree nurseries we were finally awarded the grant in November 2012. I learned a very valuable lesson that it is okay to ask for help from others and that working as a team is more effective than attempting to complete a task alone.
With some grant money under our belts the Eco Council recognized that we still needed to do quite a bit of additional fundraising to cover other items for our project that the grant would not cover. We organized a bake sale, showed the movie Wall-E in our school theatre, and we served customizable ice-cream sundaes; all of our fundraisers were a huge success and our club had a ton of fun organizing and working them.
As planting day approached I realized that I needed to pull our Eco team together if our greening project was to be successful. I created a master list of all the tasks that needed to be completed, and one of our meetings we assigned a job to a small group of members. My job was to order and pick up the native trees and shrubs from the nursery, as well as to oversee the project as a whole and provide help to any other members. My experience with the tree nursery started out kind of rocky with communication challenges. I had heard of this local tree nursery that specialized in native Albertan species from a different project that I had completed with another youth group that I was a part of in my community. I really wanted to support this tree nursery, but I became frustrated when they would not return my phone calls or emails. My dad and I decided that paying a visit to the tree nursery would be a good idea. I am so glad that we did because the people there were wonderful to work with and we received great quality trees and shrubs while supporting a local business.
On planting day the Eco Council team met behind our school in our greening area. Our first goal was to dig up the meadow of invasive dandelions where our new native shrubs were to be planted. After an hour of weeding, we then began mapping out where each of our new trees and shrubs were to be planted. Once everything was in its correct placement our team split off into groups of three, responsible for preparing a hole for each tree. We planted all of our trees, protected them with mulch ‘donuts’ and tree fencing, and then gave them a good amount of water. At this time we stopped for a delicious ice-cream and lunch break before finishing off the planting of our shrubs. I am so proud of the incredible teamwork of the Eco Council, our perseverance, and what we finally accomplished. I believe that we made a positive tangible difference in our school community that will be appreciated for many generations. I look forward to coming back in the future to see how much the trees have grown and matured.
I think it is important to revitalize and protect the natural environments around schools because these are the areas where youth may first encounter interactions with nature. We need to cultivate early relationships with nature so that future generations will preserve it and recognize its importance. For the Eco Council team at Bishop Carroll High School, we made sure that our greening project was sustainable by working with our school caretakers and creating tree maintenance schedules to make sure that our trees remain healthy and prosperous for many years to come. Our school ground greening project increased the biodiversity of our school grounds and created habitat for urban wildlife. Already we have witnessed many birds and several rabbits visiting and enjoying their new home. Increased mindfulness by our community to protect our natural areas has also resulted and we inspired many students and staff to lessen their ecological footprint.
The Apprentice Ecologist Project has taught me how to be a good leader and to communicate and work well with others. Over these past few years my knowledge and passion for environmental and social justice has grown exponentially. I have joined several other youth groups focused on making tangible positive change for social and environmental justice, and I will definitely become more involved as I transition into university. Reading other Apprentice Ecologist Projects is incredibly inspiring! I am itching to start another project that raises awareness and protects our environment. I will be studying environmental science at the University of Calgary this fall and I am looking forward to the many new volunteer opportunities that will open up to me.



END OF ESSAY



Post-project Interview with NWP:



WHERE DO YOU ATTEND OR PLAN TO ATTEND COLLEGE AND WHAT IS YOUR FIELD OF STUDY/INTEREST?
I am currently finishing up my first year in the Environmental Biology program at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Canada.


WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE EDUCATIONAL, CAREER, AND LIFE GOALS?
After graduating with my Bachelor of Science I hope to attend the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada to become a Naturopathic Doctor. I truly believe that the majority of illnesses can be healed by eating clean wholesome foods and exploring natural remedies. My goal is to eventually open up my own multifunctional health centre where I operate my practice but also create a welcoming community space where people can gather, learn and collaborate. This career path will allow me to pursue my passions of environmental and social justice while also fulfilling my personal values of helping and educating other people while protecting the Earth and its biodiversity. In the future I plan to continue my efforts in creating positive change through activism, personal actions and educating others.


WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE LONG-TERM BENEFITS TO YOUTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT MADE POSSIBLE BY THE APPRENTICE ECOLOGIST INITIATIVE?
The Apprentice Ecologist Initiative has created an international community of conservation-minded youth and their innovative ideas. Reading about the other completed projects warmed my heart to know that there are other people across the planet who are equally passionate about protecting and rejuvenating our environment and the other living creatures that inhabit it. The collection of success stories provides a fuel of encouragement to anyone reading them who is planning their own environmental project. In this day and age the amount of time that youth spend interacting with nature is almost minimal as a result of the popularity of the internet and electronic devices. Participating in an Apprentice Ecologist Initiative or simply spending more time in nature will provide a great benefit to youth. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors decreases stress levels and promotes wellbeing. I also personally believe that spending time outdoors leads to a sense of better appreciation for all life. The environment will also greatly benefit from the many different conservation projects.


HOW HAS YOUR APPRENTICE ECOLOGIST INITIATIVE PROJECT ENRICHED YOUR LIFE?
Planning and implementing the School Ground Greening project at my high school last spring was incredibly rewarding. As I was becoming more informed about a multitude of different environmental and social justice issues, I felt driven to try and spark a change that would have a positive impact. I knew that while my dream was to create sustainable global change, I had to start small and act locally so I chose to start at my school. Going into the project I had no idea how much work it was going to involve, but looking back I think that immense effort the project took to coordinate made it that much more rewarding. I didn't know how to be an effective leader at first but it was definitely a learning process. The number of meaningful relationships I formed with fellow Eco Council members, teachers, administrators, and community members was invaluable. I gained a wide array of leadership skills from my Apprentice Ecologist Initiative project that helped me to become a better communicator, team-player, and problem-solver. My future goals include taking on more local initiatives that will add up to one day create a tangible global change for the better.


WHY DO YOU FEEL IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE AN ACTIVE STEWARD OF THE ENVIRONMENT NOW AND IN THE FUTURE?
I feel that it is incredibly important to be an active steward of the environment because the Earth is our home and it is what sustains life. If we do not respect and take care of our home and the other living creatures that we share it with, we will no longer be able to live. It is as simple and pragmatic as that. Lifelong commitment to advocating for environmental health comes naturally when we consider that our entire lives are dependent on the Earth and our interactions with it and each other. I greatly admire all that the Nicodemus Wilderness Project is doing to encourage youth to be Eco-Warriors and to inspire others to protect the Earth.
· Date: July 9, 2013 · Views: 4156 · File size: 18.2kb, 376.4kb · : 800 x 533 ·
Hours Volunteered: 316
Volunteers: 20
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 15 to 18
Native Trees Planted: 7
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