Environmental Leadership at Mount Douglas: Working Together to make Sustainable Change
Despite the pandemic claiming the lives of many, the KELP group (Environmental Leadership) at Mount Douglas Secondary School have found a way to continue breathing life back into the natural world.
Located in the school’s backyard, next to the parking lot, sits the school garden. This garden sprung up in early 2020 after years of planning and securing grants. Just before school closed in early March last year, students built three successful planters. Lined with newspaper, and filled with mulch and soil, these raised beds were filled with kale, broccoli and komatsuna plants transplanted by the students.
Leadership students with broccoli plants and flowering kale for seed production
When school reopened, work on the native garden resumed. In autumn the meadow’s hedge was planted. These plants included June Plum, Nootka Rose, Salmonberry and Red Columbine. Smaller plants followed, separated by the Camas beds transplanted from two to four year old bulbs grown by students.
Shooting star plants being transplanted into the native garden.
The area was then mulched thoroughly, and a bark mulch path was laid out. In March 2021, three more planters were built, more seedlings were added to the native meadow, and the students were able to taste the fruits of their labours from the winter garden plants.
Winter garden growing with new beds awaiting planting behind
Another important student contribution belongs to Theodore Ruan, who relentlessly fed the worm farm in room 219 and then harvested large quantities of worm compost now being used in the garden.
Theo and the worm farm!
Senior students move a garden shed built by Mount Douglas students into the garden area.
Up on Mount Tolmie, socially distanced groups of up to 10 students carefully extracted broom plants and himalayan blackberries, whose invasive nature led to the decimation of indigenous plants. They also maintain a fenced off plot which currently holds hundreds of young camas. At Cadboro bay beach, the seventh bioplastic accumulation survey organized by Jennifer Ge has taken place. During these surveys, students collect and categorize detritus found on the beach, and send the numbers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an institute which is located in the United States. The bioplastic accumulation surveys are a part of the institute’s Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project, a citizen scientist initiative to survey and record the types of marine debris found in the surrounding environment.
Thanks to an award from Staples, new recycling bins were able to be purchased and weekly recycling bouts continue after school. The students involved are responsible for procuring the recycling from each classroom, sorting it, and determining the quantity of each category before storing it in the leadership bin located outside.
Even at home, students can learn more about the world around them through online webinars hosted by the Victoria Naturalist society and other groups; it’s both eye opening and safe, as students can watch from the comfort of their homes. One such webinar was the Climate Interactive webinar organized by grad student Margaret Krawciw, which upwards of fifty students attended online. With the expertise of Shea Wyatt, a Ph.D candidate, the webinar offered students a fantastic opportunity to learn about what it would take to prevent the ongoing climate crisis we are facing today. With a great turnout of students from all across the school community as well as from another One Planet school in California. Around 60 people attended, 40 of them being Mount Douglas Students. In breakout rooms, students predicted the best way to bring down the temperature, in the process realizing the wealth of work that needs to be done in order to keep the planet habitable.
Throughout Earth Week, members of the One Planet Group have collaborated with Californian students to organize and attend a Youth Summit. Sadikshya Baral won a prize for her group work, and Luca Jones won third place in the film awards with his Biomass rap.
Even though the pandemic continues to rage on, the devoted members of KELP are hardly letting this year go to waste. The world might be a scary place, but through enthusiasm and hard work, they keep putting one foot in front of another to make their community a better place.
Article written by Anika Rao, grade 11