../Morning Post
Posted April 12, 2011

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Environment

Local high school leads the way in environmental action

Cambridge - Students and staff of a local high school have been working in partnership with the rare Charitable Research Reserve to promote environmental awareness and conservation within their community, and now they are giving back too.

Southwood Secondary School, located in Cambridge and host to Waterloo Region’s Environmental Magnet and a Specialist High Skills Major program in Environment, is striving to teach students the importance of environmental consciousness and management. Through an 8+ year relationship with the rare Charitable Research Reserve situated on the banks of the Grand River, students have been able to experience the wide range of species and ecosystems that are found on the more than 900 acre property which rare works to protect.

In addition to their conservation goals and priority program of research, rare runs educational programs for students in grades 2-12, with topics ranging from the local food movement and sustainability to biodiversity and conservation of energy. Special events like hikes and presentations are also run several times a month, and are open to the community.

Led by teachers Jason Bracey and Christopher Giesler, as well as rare’s Education Director Matthew Lawson, Southwood students have participated in a variety of these activities on the property. They participate in trips to learn about local ecosystems, the effects that human development has on them, and the methods that rare is using to limit these effects and protect the species and landscapes. Students have also participated in tree planting events at rare, allowing for further hands on interaction between students and the property.

“I always enjoy working with the staff and students of Southwood,” says Matt Lawson, manager of education at rare. “It’s always nice to meet with staff that are passionate about what they teach, and students that are enthusiastic to learn and participate.”

Students are now getting a chance to give back to the Reserve they have learned so much about by supporting the charity that stewards it - rare. The Southwood students are running a number of events to promote environmental awareness and conservation within the community, hoping to create a growing environmentally conscious population.

On April 1st, the annual Southwood Staff / Student Hockey Game was held and all proceeds donated to rare. The event is held in honour of former Southwood geography teacher Tim Walker, and brings together many members of the Southwood community. On April 14th at 7pm, Southwood will be hosting a “Coffee House” at the school, featuring musical performances by students, raffles, a silent auction and the sale of refreshments. All proceeds from the event going to rare.

The students have also thought of an event that is of use to so many of us who never really know how to properly dispose of our old electronics. From 9am-2pm on Saturday, April 16th, Southwood will host a community E-Waste Collection. They will be collecting all used and unwanted electronics, including computers, sound systems, televisions and appliances. This event, with the assistance of Eco-Tech Recycling, will help to ensure that unwanted electronics are disposed of appropriately, instead of going to landfill. It is free to drop off all electronics; donations to rare will gratefully be accepted.

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