Conservation is the buzzword among the students at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary’s Justice Club this year.
The club, which consists of students in Grades 10-12, recently registered for a program called “Exploring Conservation,” run through National Geographic. The program consists of six different courses on various topics related to conservation, including an introduction to conservation and defining at-risk species, in conjunction with the terms “endangered” or “threatened and vulnerable.”
“We decided to do this because it really is in line with our environmental initiatives. Conservations are a really big topic for us this year,” said teacher sponsor Tai St. Pierre, who runs the club with Ray Kline.
Students will receive a certificate at the end of the course, stating they completed the program through National Geographic.
“It’s something really good for them if they want to go into conservation,” St. Pierre said. “It’s like a credential.”
The students, who are also involved in a school beekeeping program and manage their own hives, are focusing on another study they are completing through the University of Guelph as well. The group has a natural beehive bee box they set up outside the school. Throughout the summer, they will be watching which native pollinators visit the box and leave their larvae there.
They will then send the box back to the University of Guelph, “for them to study basically what pollinators we have in the area and how they’re doing essentially based on who uses the box,” St. Pierre said.
St. Pierre said they learned a lot from their course and research in the conservation program.
“I think the most interesting thing for me was how when you’re looking at conservation, you have to approach people on a very human level,” she said. “It can’t just be all facts and statistics; you have to approach people from an emotional standpoint as well. People are more likely to want to help or want to make change if they feel emotionally invested in the topic or in that species specifically in terms of conservation.”
Anyone can get involved in the Justice Club, which works through the courses as a group.
“With our programs, we’re open to anybody who’s interested, so if someone just wants to drop in and do it with us, they totally can,” St. Pierre said.
She added she hopes the local community will be more involved when it comes to conservation efforts.
“These are the people who are on the ground and have the ability to make the most impact,” she said. “Working with them to incorporate their own way of life with our conservation program is really important because you don’t want to approach it as telling people what they can and can’t do. You want to work with them, not against them.”