While we often think of leaders as wise elders, in Bonnington it is the youth who are leading the community to become greener.
The Bonnington Youth Green Team is a first summer work experience for 11 youth ages 12 to 14. They have researched local environmental issues, including forest fire interface, invasive plants, water use, human/wildlife conflicts, composting and public transportation.
“I have learned there are lots of issues in my community,” explained participant Tyler Lacroche, 13. “But there are lots of solutions and ways we can work together to make our community greener.”
The next step is for the Green Team to share their new knowledge with local residents by going door-to-door and through a website they have made, bonningtonyouthgreenteam.yolasite.com.
Bonnington residents who use the website to learn about the issues and answer some simple questions will be entered into a draw for prizes. There will also be some major prizes given out in late September to Bonnington residents who take up the challenge of using the information to decrease their impacts on the local environment.
The youth are organizing a number of community events, including pulling invasive weeds from the local park on August 20, which will be followed by an ice cream sundae making party. Everyone is welcome to participate.
The Green Team will also be creating a movie about where the community’s water comes from and how the water system operates. The movie will be shown at an upcoming community event on August 27 at Bonnington Regional Park where the Green Team will have information tables set up so they can answer questions.
“Lots of people want to do the right thing, but they may not know how,” said 13 year old Micah May. “We are trying to provide our neighbours with the information they need to make a difference.”
Parents of each youth are volunteering their time to mentor the Green Team so they learn what it is expected from employees and build their skills. The youth are also being supported by community organizations — such as Bear Aware, the Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee, Nelson Car Share Co-op, and Earth Matters — local professionals and industries, including Columbia Power Corporation and FortisBC.
The program has been sponsored by the Bonnington Regional Park Society, which is providing funding for the prizes. On completion of the program, the youth will receive a letter of recommendation plus a cash honorarium, courtesy of regional district Area F director Ron Mickel, who administers Columbia Basin Trust funding for community projects in his area.