Green Teams Canada logo of colourful tree and name of organization
It was a perfect day for students of R.E. Mountain Secondary School to elevate their school’s beautiful outdoor space!

Highlights

  • 204 students from R.E. Mountain Secondary School participated in this activity to elevate the outdoor space at their school. They contributed a total of 204 hours!
    • 10 classes of grades 9-12 students were engaged over 4 sessions
  • 5 garden beds were created, be sure to check out the before and after photos at the bottom of the page!
  • 150 plants were planted in the new garden beds
  • 2 existing garden beds were weeded
  • 1 path was created through a wooded area for students to enjoy and connect with nature on school property. Be sure to check out the before and after photos at the bottom of the page!
  • A nature scavenger hunt was completed at the start of each session to get the students oriented with the natural area

Summary

On Tuesday May 3, 2022 the Lower Mainland Green Team and R.E. Mountain Secondary School joined forces to engage students in the creation of an outdoor space in the natural area of the school property.

Despite the threat of rain, we couldn’t have asked for better day for this activity – not too hot, cold, windy, wet or dry! A variety of tasks were completed throughout the day and all were meaningful for the students to experience the creation of and learn to care for this space.

Tasks completed fell into 3 main categories:

Learning what is in the space
  • Exploring the natural area and what exists in it through a nature scavenger hunt
Caring for what already exists
  • Weeding of existing garden beds
  • Picking up litter
Adding to the space
  • Creating new garden beds
    • Overturning the grass/soil and adding a layer of new soil
  • Planting the new garden beds
Making room for new ways to use and experience the space
  • Clearing vegetation to form a path around the pond
    • Shrubs (Salmonberry) and young trees (Alder) were dug up with the intent to transplant them elsewhere in the space

While space and time limited our ability to replant the vegetation we dug up, the students made use of the Alder removed to line the newly created garden beds. Because their intent was to keep the vegetation alive so they could transplant it, the students took extra time and care to remove and familiarize themselves with the plant. This promoted a deeper connection to what was growing in the space.

There were many outcomes of this activity asides from the physical creation of the outdoor space. Notably, the students:

  • Formed a deeper connection to nature and place by spending meaningful time in this outdoor space. Through meaningful experiences in nature, a deeper respect and care for nature is formed, which leads to lifelong environmentally responsible behaviour.
  • Practiced their teamwork, leadership, communication and critical thinking skills, which were required in all tasks. The location of all the plants in the new garden beds, placement of logs around the beds, and direction of the path was all determined by the students!
  • Experienced a sense of community by working on this project in collaboration with their peers.
  • Contributed to a project that would benefit students for years to come, giving a sense of pride and ownership. Their work will allow future students to enjoy and benefit from the space!
  • Learned and experienced how they can care for and have a positive impact nature and others.
  • Tried something new! For many students, this was their first time putting their hands in soil and handling plants in the way we did. While it may have resulted in some dirty clothes and shoes, it was totally worth it!

There are many benefits to being in nature including reduced levels of stress and anxiety, improved mood, focus, and memory, mental clarity, physical exercise, fresh air and MORE! Through the creation of this space, students can more easily to step into nature and disconnect for a moment, even just for 5 minutes, while at school. This is an incredible mental health and physical health resource!

There are big plans to continue to add to this space including seating, raised beds and places for students and staff to gather. We encourage the students to continue to care for this space by weeding, watering (especially in the summer) and expressing love for this space. Nature takes care of us, and we have a responsibility to take care of her back!

Thank You!

Thank you to all of the hard-working and enthusiastic students who participated in this activity and contributed to the creation of this outdoor space! Each and every student had a meaningful impact on this space.

Thank you to all of the teachers who brought their classes out to this activity, demonstrated leadership and worked alongside the students!

A huge thank you to R.E. Mountain Secondary School for partnering with our charity, Green Teams of Canada, and providing the financial support for our Green Team to facilitate this activity.

An EXTRA special thanks Lesley Gunning, Matthew Suzuki and students in the Sustainability Club for the thinking of our Green Team for this project and all of the incredible work you put into it – it could not have happened without you! Your passion for your school and this project was evident and made this activity the huge success that it was.

Before and After Photos

(click images to make them bigger)

Plant Beds

Nature Path

Path entrance closest to R.E. Mountain Secondary School.
Same spot as the previous photo, but looking the opposite direction.
Path entrance furthest from school, near soccer fields.

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