May 7, 2019 – As thousands of Canadian students walked out of class to protest climate policies on May 3, a group of Nepean High School students were taking their protest back to basics.
Shovels in hand, the 14-person crew braved wet weather to plant 500 trees at MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre in Cumberland. Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) provided the seedlings and taught the students how and where to plant them.
“I like that we’re taking real action, we’re out here actually planting trees,” said Emily Drummond, a Grade 9 environment club member. The club had planned to join the #FridaysForFuture climate strike at Parliament Hill, but decided they could have a more immediate impact reforesting an abandoned field.
Most of the students were in Grade 11 or 12 and part of the school’s environmental Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program. They take courses in habitat ecology, resource management and environmental science as part of their core curriculum. Most said they would pursue careers in an environmental field.
SHSM director and environment club leader Chris Drummond said he has worked with the RVCA before, planting endangered butternut seedlings in another part of the outdoor education centre and installing several turtle habitat sites.
The trees were paid for by the RVCA’s charitable arm, the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation.
The RVCA manages the Rideau River watershed. It monitors flood risks and other hazards, regulates development around waterways and supports stewardship activities like tree planting and shoreline naturalization to make the watershed more resilient. It also maintains 11 conservation areas and 42 kilometres of public trails.
You can support the RVCA’s work through a charitable donation to the foundation (www.rvcf.ca), purchasing a tree for a special occasion or donating private land for preservation.