Students earn enviro accolades

Kids at Bernard elementary are officially green thumbs.

Kids at Bernard elementary are officially green thumbs.

The elementary school received an honourable mention in Science World’s third annual BC Green Games,  a contest that celebrates environmental sustainability projects developed by kids in B.C.

And while Bernard didn’t win the $500 viewers’ choice award that was up for grabs, they won recognition, which is huge in keeping the momentum growing, said Grade 3 teacher Donna Boucher.

At Bernard, it was a seedling of an idea that blossomed into an expansive eco-adventure, that got them noticed.

Boucher’s Grade 3 class wanted to make a difference within their school’s environment. They started out small, pledging to reduce their garbage, limiting their paper and cardboard use, recycling, and turning off the lights when not needed.

It grew from there.

Literally.

An eco-club was formed, a composting program started, and plants and vegetables grown.

“It is such a simple thing to grow your own food,” said Boucher. “We don’t all live in big houses, but whether you live on a farm or not, you can grow your own food.”

Bernard elementary is proof.

The kids took a sterile-looking concrete courtyard at the school and transformed it into a vibrant, green learning space.

Through fundraising initiatives, they built raised garden beds in the courtyard, and planted potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, sunflowers, nasturtiums and more.

“It’s exciting because the kids are seeing their efforts grow and are making connections with their work,” said Boucher.

“If we want our kids to care about the environment, we have to take them out into the environment. It is so huge for our kids to appreciate what they have. And if they start growing their own plants and vegetables, and they see the progress, they’re going to learn.”

The work doesn’t stop here though. The club, which has grown from 18 students to more than 30, has plans to start building benches in the courtyard next week, and will be building birdhouses and feeders to further increase the area’s biodiversity. The club also hopes to tap into Chilliwack’s history by growing plants like licorice fern, salmon berries, bracken fern and horsetail which are native to the aboriginal community.

“There are so many different levels of learning here,” said Boucher. “It’s a great way for our kids to learn.”

And a great way to create young environmentalists.

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