Summer Heat and Ecology North teamed up to take on waste management on July 4 in Tri-Service Park, aiming to teach kids not only about the importance of recycling, but the practical side of it, as well.
“We need to get them involved at a young age,” said Summer Heat co-ordinator Marissa Oteiza. “They can make their town and world a greener place, and if they value that now, there’s a better chance of them helping to create a safe, clean place for generations to come.”
Just more than a dozen kids came out to Tri-Service Park to learn about the three ‘R’ campaign – to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Ecology North’s Kim Rapati had set up a relay race in which the kids were asked to sort through a bag of household waste in teams and place items in the correct categories for recycling or disposal.
“Getting them interested and aware at a young age really helps them develop good habits,” remarked Oteiza, who has worked hard to create more structured programming for Summer Heat this year, focusing – at least with the older kids – on good citizenship and environmental awareness.
For many of the children, however, the recycling game presented no challenge at all.
“We recycle a lot at home,” said Zachary Barnes. “So I already know how to sort everything.”
Carter Hull also has experience dealing with his family’s recycling, perhaps more so than most of the other relay participants.
“The truck doesn’t come to pick up garbage at my house,” he said. “So every two weeks we go and take our garbage to the dump ourselves. We do recycling at the same time.”
While Rapati is certainly pleased her mission to educate kids about waste management and reduction is proving popular, she did express some consternation at being pegged as the worm lady.
“I’m excited to get to work for an extended period of time with this group because I can get into more topics than just worm composting. That’s the most popular activity for kids, but now I can do some fun activities on animals and ecology, as well,” she said, and added, laughing, “I can talk about more than worms, but that’s what people keep calling me for.”
Ecology North was just awarded a $14,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
Rapati said the funds will help her with general operating costs, but also to expand her activities at a regional level.
“It’s not a lot of money,” she told The Hub. “But it’s like a stamp of approval from NSERC that means they think we’re doing a good job. We didn’t get a fraction of what we asked for, but it’s a foot in the door for more, possibly next year.”
Rapati is keen to grow the youth ecology side of programming in Hay River as well as the South Slave as a whole. Part of the mandate of NSERC’s PromoScience Program Competition is to develop an interest in the sciences in young people and make them aware of the field as a possibility for future study.
“They have kids doing their own wastewater testing up in Lutsel K’e, and it seems to be really getting them interested in science and ecology as something they might want to go into,” Rapati said. “If we can get kids interested in the sciences and show them some possibilities, maybe they’ll choose it as a career path later in life.”
— Sarah Ladik