Keeping the Earth clean and healthy was on the minds of scores of students in the South Cariboo last week.
While big community clean-up events were cancelled due to COVID-19, local students did their part to make the community a little greener during Earth Day on April 22. Dozens of students, staying within their own cohorts, could be seen all day with trash bags in hand as they collected litter, cigarette butts and other trash.
At Horse Lake Elementary School, students treated the cleanup almost as a game as they competed to see who could pick up the most litter. Grade 7 students Nikaylee Greene and Riley Wright said they were glad to see everyone at school come together to clean up their schoolyard.
“Especially because we have a forest on our schoolyard. There’s a lot of animals like squirrels and birds, so if they see something shiny they could mistake it for food and feed it to their young and kill them,” Nikaylee said.
The two said the Earth has done so much for humanity and even a little action like picking up trash could have a huge impact. Riley said it would be great if every day could be Earth Day.
Selene Ball’s Grade 2 class was bouncing across the schoolyard in their excitement to pick up litter.
“If we don’t pick up garbage there will be litter all around us and it’d just be disgusting. We don’t want that because it could kill some of our plants,” Selene said.
At Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School, the cleanup efforts were organized by the Social Justice Club, according to Grade 10 students Desirae Thorsteinson and Megan Holyk. Holyk said teachers volunteered to take different cohorts out to different parts of the town.
“Everyone went out at a certain time to pick things up,” Thorsteinson said.
Holyk said despite the wind, it was a nice day to be picking up garbage, even if there was a lot of it on the streets as “people are just throwing away so much nowadays.”
Thorsteinson added most of their classmates were into it, although some were just going for a walk. Still, she said the day is all about doing what you can to help make the Earth a better place.
Even homeschoolers got into the Earth Day spirit. Sara Jones, a stay-at-home mother, took her family to Gold Trail Recycling for a tour. There they learned about all the things that they could recycle, and she said their guide was great.
“Then we decided to come to Centennial Park and be in nature for Earth Day. We were going to clean up but it’s been nice to see there wasn’t a ton of garbage so we just decided to play,” Jones said.
Jones said her kids told her Earth Day was the best day ever. She personally thinks it’s important for them to learn how to care for and respect the Earth. Carrying the lessons of the day on, Jones said she has reached out to B.C. Forestry to acquire a couple of saplings to plant with her children.