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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Gordon Head, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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Gordon Head, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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Registered: December 2016
City/Town/Province: Victoria
Posts: 1
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My interest in environmental studies has been deepening with the rising issue of climate change and pollution. In grade 7 a small group of friends and I initiated Arbutus Global Middle School's Eco club with the help of our principal. We brought recycling programs into our school (ie. soft plastics, hard plastics, etc.) and managed to raise some money, which we used to invite groups like the Jellyfish Project to our school. In high school a group of my peers and I started an ongoing Ecological Restoration project. In early 2015 I created a project introducing four major invasive species of the Garry Oak ecosystem on Vancouver Island: Himalayan Blackberry, Scotch Broom, Daphne Laureola, and English Ivy. I led two grade 10 classes around to survey the Gordon Head area in Greater Victoria and inform residents of these plants. With my teacher's help we received a generous grant from the Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, and were invited to a four day conference at Pearson College. Our project is expanding through monthly volunteering with the "Saanich Pulling Together" program and subsequent annual projects from other classes.

The 2016 portion of my project is comprised of volunteering with the Saanich Pulling Together program where we conduct bi-weekly invasive species removals in Mount Tolmie Park in Greater Victoria. This project is focused around preserving the vanishing Garry Oak Ecosystem. The mountain top is beautiful and grassy but is teaming with invasive species squashing all of our precious native plants and animals. The earth is quite nice to work with, although some spots can be rocky, but with the help of experts from the Saanich Pulling Together program we've been very successful. In the past year we've removed patches of Himalayan Blackberry, Scotch Broom, and lots of Ivy. However, recently we've been focusing on removing the toxic Daphne. Removal of invasive species is only half the task. We've also been planting native species like Garry Oak trees, Arbutus trees, Great Camas, Camas, Shooting-star, and a few other native species. Sometimes we find that plants go missing so we try our best to camouflage the new seedlings and plant them away from hiking trails, but overall it's all been a big success! We get Mt. Douglas Secondary students to help out with the removals and plantings. For the most part, students come from the Eco Club or Leadership program. Currently we are also planning to start a school garden for native species and maybe edible plants.

One of my main interests is the recycling of our everyday waste which is why I started a vermicomposting program for my school in May of 2016. It's been tricky balancing out the dampness of the bedding, consisting of leaves and newspaper, for the worms but recently we've just figured out how to keep the worm farm from stinking up the whole classroom. My teacher and I feed the worms around twice a week with kitchen scraps. They love eggshells and coffee grinds, and when the bedding turns into that rich black substance, I harvest the worm droppings. Currently I've been harvesting by rotating where I feed the worms so I disturb them as little as possible. But in January I plan to get my school's Eco club involved by dumping the contents of the worm farm out on a tarp and doing one big harvest. The latter method is much more efficient, and I love getting my peers involved.

This project has spread awareness throughout the Gordon Head neighborhood and my school, Mount Douglas Secondary. It has opened many doors for my peers and their interests and has really helped the city of Saanich. Last year the municipal government presented us with an award to recognize our work on preserving the Garry Oak. Part of our mission is to preserve biodiversity and the mountain has definitely benefited from us removing the beds of English ivy and planting native species in their place. Additionally we pick up any garbage that has been left by others, although Mt. Tolmie is quite clean. This project has really brought more awareness into my community.

Conducting this project through the past few years has really opened my eyes to what we can do to make change for the better and save our Earth. Guy Dauncey has been a huge influence and great mentor to me, his message is to always focus on the positive and what we can do, rather than ponder what will happen if we don't change. I want everyone to know that saving the environment doesn't mean drastic changes; it just means being more aware of your surroundings and wasting as little as possible. I will continue to work on this ever-growing project with the wonderful people volunteering and one day I hope to become the root of a sturdy tree.
Date: December 30, 2016 Views: 3978 File size: 21.3kb, 672.4kb : 1313 x 873
Hours Volunteered: 240
Volunteers: 20
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 10 to 60
Native Trees Planted: 15
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