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Trail high school students embrace land stewardship

Seeds of Change: JL Crowe Adventure Leadership Academy
The Adventure Leadership Academy at JL Crowe Secondary School is an outdoor leadership class that offers 40 students a unique Grade 11 semester integrating Life Science, Geography, Leadership and Outdoor Skills. Photo: Submitted

by Katie Rose Clarke

Having dirt in your shoes isn’t the most pleasant thing for most people, but for the Adventure Leadership Academy at JL Crowe Secondary School, it signifies you’ve just had another incredible day in the outdoor classroom.

In both classroom and nature settings, our class of 36 students learn what it means to be stewards of the land.

“Our goal is to raise up a generation of youth not on the screens, but outside, taking care of this beautiful place,” stated Kyle Percy, Adventure Leadership Academy coordinator and science teacher.

By taking us hiking, skiing, climbing, kayaking and having fun in the outdoors, they have instilled in us a respect and appreciation for our land.

Stewardship means to take care of, respect and to maintain, and in this program, we are passionate to steward not just the environment, but our community.

On a day set aside to go and live out this objective (Earth Day), we headed out to “Crowebar” a local Kootenay Columbia Trails Society sanctioned trail built by the previous year’s academy students, with garbage bags and gloves, to clean up the litter that, in some places, coats the ground.

As the school is close to our local landfill, it provides a unique opportunity to see the direct effects of pollution close to home.

Walking into the forest, we see that plastic is hung around in the trees, buried under the layer of leaves and pine needles, or in plain sight where crows have dropped them.

“It was eerie,” remarked Jaden Aikman, a grade 11 student in the adventure academy program.

“Hearing the crows, and the plastic blowing around … it’s almost like a ghost story.”

After only a few short hours, the pile of full garbage bags was staggering, even though the class had barely scratched the surface.

This was just one occasion of the program’s environmental stewardship, and it shows how dire our local situation really is.

As well as the shock from the sheer amount of garbage in our area, the class was surprised to find that School District 20 has no proper recycling plan beyond paper.

Taking initiative to make changes, the class separates their own waste into cans, glass, soft plastics, hard plastics, paper and compost that are all accepted at the McKelvey Creek Regional Landfill.

The students then deliver the recyclables themselves to the landfill facility.

We hope that the rest of the school will follow suit, using the bins for cans and bottles they have set up around the school, and the newly installed composting box, constructed by the students during this year’s Earth Day.

Organic wastes can contribute up to a thousand times more greenhouse gases than Carbon Dioxide, so composting seemed like a no brainer.

“It’s disappointing that the broader student base is disinterested in contributing ecologically, but it’s truly a shame that the school isn’t providing mechanisms for that contribution,” said Liam Skeoch, a student in the program.

Finally, the students not only steward our environment, but serve our community by building and maintaining our local trails.

“We take care of the land, because the land takes care of us,” Casey McIntyre said, summarizing the program’s main moral.

The Adventure Leadership Academy strives to prove true to its values of being hardworking, building up a strong community, and being active in our city, in serving and stewarding.

But through the hard work, none of us regret taking this course.

“I haven’t had this much fun in school before, anyone who didn’t take this course would be crazy,” said Jackson Chouinard.

Working together, our class aims to become a generation disconnected from the digital world, and reconnected into nature, maintaining the beautiful place we live in.

We hope that through our efforts, the entire community of Trail will be inspired to make the change we need to see, even if it means getting dirty.

Katie Rose Clarke,

Adventure Leadership Academy student

The Adventure Leadership Academy at JL Crowe Secondary School is an outdoor leadership class that offers 40 students a unique Grade 11 semester integrating Life Science, Geography, Leadership and Outdoor Skills. The program is a blend of academic and recreational opportunities that vary from avalanche safety to canoe tripping to first aid to environmentalism. The program has begun to take on a stewardship role with the local area, trails, and ecosystems. Students have embraced this and dedicated themselves to starting: an in-school plastic recycling program; building and maintaining local trails; picking up trash; and starting a school compost program to deal with the organic waste from the foods department as well as the class itself.

Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

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