Green Teams Canada logo of colourful tree and name of organization
Grade 5/6 students from Ms. Hiddleston and Mr. Wensink’s classes at H.T. Thrift Elementary (1st session)
Grade 6/7 students from Mr. McNabb’s and Mr. Bencze’s classes at White Rock Elementary (2nd session)

Highlights

  • 76 local students participated and contributed 150 hours total
  • 29 participants visited Ruth Johnson Park for the first time
  • 61 participants removed invasive plants for the first time
  • 14 cubic metres of invasive English ivy and English holly was removed (equivalent to the volume of about 88 bathtubs!)! Check out before and after photos at the bottom of this post.
  • We received media coverage by the Peace Arch News TWICE! The first article was during the article HERE, and second after the activity HERE.

Action Shots

Summary

On Friday April 22, 2022 the Lower Mainland Green Team joined forces with the City of White Rock to engage local youth in an invasive plant removal at Ruth Johnson Park in celebration of Earth Day.

47 grade 5/6 students from H.T. Thrift Elementary and 28 grade 6/7 students from White Rock Elementary walked from their schools to Ruth Johnson Park to make a difference in their community and have a positive impact on this urban forest in celebration of Earth Day. We couldn’t have asked for a better day as the youth got to experience the many benefits of working together and being out in nature on a sunny, spring day. While our focus was to free trees and the forest floor of invasive English ivy, we also removed a few young invasive English holly trees. This was particularly satisfying for the youth as they used a special tool to uproot the trees so they won’t grow back.

English ivy produces a thick ground cover that smothers other plants and can climb up and kill a tree within 10 years. English holly is an evergreen tree that grows well in shady conditions and can displace native understory trees and vegetation. By removing these invasive plants we are creating room for other native plants grow, which increases biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. Strengthening our ecosystems in ways like this will help the area better adapt to the effects of climate change!

Our Green Team is no stranger to Ruth Johnson Park. We visited this park 5 times in 2021 (March 3, April 22, June 9, October 23, and October 27, 2021) and have been helping steward this beautiful park since 2013!

We removed a number of things that don’t belong in our ecosystems, including a pair of sunglasses and a small fan.

We also found a beautiful flowering Trillium and took extra care not to disturb this plant. Trilliums are a very slow growing plant that only begin to flower when they reach 7-10 years of age. As beautiful as the flower is, do not pick it! Picking the flowers can be detrimental to the plant.

This ecosystem wasn’t the only one to benefit from our efforts, as the students themselves had a great time and enjoyed the opportunity to be in nature together. There are many benefits to being in nature including reduced levels of stress and anxiety, physical exercise and fresh air, and mental clarity. Additionally, through this experience we are helping the youth connect to and cultivate a deeper respect for nature, which helps instil responsible environmental behaviour that extends beyond our activities!

This activity followed the COVID-19 Safety Plan of our charity, Green Teams of Canada, and current province-wide restrictions with safety measures in place to ensure participants could connect with each other and nature safely.

Thank You!

Thank you to all of the enthusiastic and hard-working youth that joined us for this awesome day: Elena, Naya, Ryan, Vanessa, Phoebe, Shore, Shania, Kevin, Danica, Brooke, Jessie, Serina, Leo, Hana, Brian, Nicolas, Nicole, Jake, Alex, Tyson, Ryansh, Suri, Sierra, Alan, Davina, Yousif, Aahna, Alvina, Payton, Lilly, Brenda, Dominic, Gurleen, Amy, Bill, Daniel, Dan, Jacob, Simrat, Eric, Max, Maxwell, David, Lukas, Heath, Victor, Yuson, Lexi, Rain, Sascha, Kane, Colby, Aiden, Daniel, Cole, Lyla, Cyan, Sophia S., Sahil, Sienna, Dev, Amtoj, Jennifer, Sophia D., Sam, Sofia G., Jamie, Noah, Ethan, Khloe, Armaan, Harjan, Dylan, Sophia M, Xavier and Izzy!

Thank you to the teachers who brought their students to this hands-on learning opportunity: Lisa Hiddleston and Darren Wensink from H.T. Thrift Elementary and Tyler McNabb and Ron Bencze from White Rock Elementary!

A big thank you to Jim Gordon and Spencer Booth at the City of White Rock for partnering with our charity, Green Teams of Canada, to make this Earth Day activity for local youth possible! We have built a wonderful relationship with the City over the past 9 years and look forward to continuing our work together.

Before and After Photos

(click images to make them bigger)

No before photo, but this area was dense with ivy prior to the youth coming in!
No before photo, but this area had 2 holly trees and lots of ivy prior to the youth coming in!

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