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Oilfields students show off ever-growing sustainability project

A ribbon cutting ceremony was followed by speeches where students talked about the different parts of their sustainability project and thanked the many sponsors and community supporters who helped make the project possible. The final two phases of the project are planned but await funding.

Oilfields High School students held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the first three stages of the school's sustainability project.

Students Makayla Brown and Lucas Mauchline emceed the ceremony held outdoors on June 10 that saw sponsors and project supporters learn about the experiences of those who took part in the project.  

The school became involved in a sustainability initiative with the Town of Black Diamond in 2019. It started with collecting compost from the school, which would be used in the agriculture and science programs, with the material stored in a compost bin located outside the school in a field, Brown said.

“However, due to bears and outside rodents, the project was put on hold until funding could be raised to build a fence,” Mauchline said.

As they waited for funding, the project began to expand, Mauchline said. Students wanted an environmentally-friendly learning environment and they installed recycling bins in the school. Made by shop students, the bins were built with dividers to sort the recyclables, bottles, waste and compost, with proceeds from the bottles going back into the sustainability project, and compost going to the garden the students had built.

The sustainability project grew from there, with students from agriculture, foods, science and other programs expanding it into different phases, each led by the students, Brown said.

The first phase was the building of the indoor recycling stations. Phase two was building the fence and in-ground garden, and phase three was creating an outdoor classroom, expanding the garden and adding things like a compost receptacle and trees, she said.

“We have successfully completed phases one through three, as you see today,” Mauchline said.

Two phases remain, which will start once money is raised.

Phase four will be a renovation to bring the kitchen in the foods room to commercial standards. Once complete, students will be able to fundraise for their own programs. The final phase will be to build a greenhouse to expand the indoor gardening program.

Over the summer of 2021, students and their parents took turns watering the garden with rainwater collected in a tote, and in fall that year, there was a successful crop of herbs, pumpkins, squash and zucchini, among other vegetables, which went into the school’s foods program.

The students hope the kitchen renovation can be completed by fall 2022. The renovation will require an additional $20,000 in funding and would allow students to prepare food for their winter market and support the local food bank.

Mauchline and the other students in the sustainability program are thankful for the continued support of their town council and local partners

“None of this could have happened without community support from all of you (in attendance),” Mauchline said, “I am thanking you for supporting and cultivating the next generation of community members and young leaders.

“Let this garden stand as a symbol for the beautiful and cultivative experience you’ve provided us with, that will serve as a hub for generations of learning and positivity through sustainability."

It is through support and encouragement by active community members in the Foothills area that students have a chance to act and make a difference towards a bright future in the community, he said.

Robert Korotyszyn

About the Author: Robert Korotyszyn

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