In 2009 Dr. Michelle Slaney, an organizer of the COP 15 Summit in Copenhagen, a former student in my school, paid a visit to us and opened our eyes to what it’s like to make a difference. We were all extremely excited to get started and created a group known as the Holy Name of Mary Academy Eco Kids. It began with a paper recycling program in our school and collecting pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald house and grew into our own green house and a biodiversity garden.
We also purchased re-usable water bottles for staff and students, erected an “Idle Free Zone’ in our parking lot, planted trees around our school, and even preformed a play on our Christmas concert called “Santa Goes Green” to encourage others to become environmentally friendly. We take part in “Lights out Canada”, “National Sweater Day” and “Earth Hour” and have participated in the Burin Peninsula Envrio- Fest. The list goes on, of things we’ve done over the past years.
We have become a chapter of “Marine Institutes Friends of Beaches” and we have presented at the “Ocean Net” Conference for three years. Our group has won the “Eco Champ” award, “U Rock Volunteer” award and “Staples Recycle for Education” award.
In 2013 I made a presentation at the Marine Institute, Ocean Net conference with the H.N.M.A. Eco Kids! At this conference another presenter told us of his Arctic expedition with the organization Students on Ice. This immediately sparked my interest and as soon as I got home I made it a goal to be selected to participate in this expedition, I applied for a scholarship with the Marine Institute with an essay about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and fortunately I won!
My expedition took me to the Canadian Arctic and Greenland with over 150 students, innovators, scientists and teachers!
While on this trip of a lifetime I experienced a place in the world that was truly amazing, I uncovered the mystery in wildlife, learned about a completely new culture and basked in the beauty that is the Arctic. ! I was able to explore wonders such as the Ilulissat Icefjord, a gorgeous place, filled with ice bergs as far as the eye could see. However due to global warming, I learned that it is expected to disappear in 20-30 years! I was able to speak (and sing) to the Prime Minister of Greenland herself at the 100th anniversary of a Northern community called Uummannaq, who welcomed us with open arms! A tradition on SOI expeditions is the “Arctic Swim”, in which you plunge into the freezing Arctic waters for a swim! I submerged myself into a new culture, toured Disko Bay in zodiacs and met lifelong friends.
Another of our activities was a 30K hike to the Arctic Circle; put yourself into my size 8, waterlogged hiking boots.
Every twist and turn of that hike made me fall in love with this corner of the Earth that was tucked away, uncovered by so few. We had stopped to explore a little and then I realized that I was standing in quite possibly the most interesting place in the world. Snow capped mountains towered above me; sand stuck to my wet boots and right beneath the sand was snow. Before me was a pond, a teal-green pond that would put any body of water to shame.
I took a step back to take in this beautiful sight and my foot collided with something; that something was trash. I was standing in the most fascinating place I could imagine and I found trash. During my expedition the burning passion I had in my heart and soul had raged into a dangerous fire and a girl with a mission. Since then I have continued to work with the HNMA Eco Kids, this will be my 7th year volunteering with my community and school.
As you can see environmentalism is a huge passion of mine, which is why I have chosen it as my platform! My goal is to educate people of the importance of environmental protection and make the world aware of the issues facing our planet. I believe that we must be educated on these issues in order to insure a healthy future for our Earth.
“The only way forward, if we are going to improve the quality of the environment, is to get everybody involved.” -Richard Rogers