Roots & Shoots flourishes at Ecole Cobble Hill

Kids from the Ecole Cobble Hill Roots & Shoots Club on the trail. - Joerg Rosenthal
Kids from the Ecole Cobble Hill Roots & Shoots Club on the trail.
— image credit: Joerg Rosenthal

Ecole Cobble Hill is one of two Vancouver Island schools declared a B.C. Green Games winner.

The Roots & Shoots Club at Ecole Cobble Hill's predecessor, Ecole Mill Bay, also earned B.C. Green Games wins in 2011 and 2012. The awards are presented in Earth Day celebrations.

"It was a natural fit for our Roots and Shoots Club,'' explained Tonja Joyce of the Ecole Cobble Hill Parent Advisory Council. "Our new school, Ecole Cobble Hill, is right beside an amazing park which is part of the Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem. After touring the forest, we discovered that many students didn't know how to identify even a common native plant or tree in the Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem.

"We decided it was important for us to know about the ecosystem around us, so we explored the forest and tried to identify what we found there. We learned about the traditional and medicinal uses of the common plants and ways we could use them in our everyday life. We wanted to learn more so we invited the experts in.''

The students were then inspired to do something to preserve the wildlife because Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystems need protection.

With the support of the Cobble Hill Parks Commission, Roots & Shoots is expanding the existing Cowichan Valley Regional District Fairfield Park trail in Cobble Hill. The students are designing interpretive signs to provide information about the ecological origins, native species, forestry history and more of the Coastal Douglas Fir forest.

"The students are exceptional to work with and we are impressed with the knowledge and enthusiasm they are bringing to this project,'' stated Cobble Hill regional director Gerry Giles in a news release.

The new interpretive trail will create a natural outdoor learning space that will serve as an extension to the nearby indoor classrooms. The trail will also be available for the community to enjoy.

The Roots & Shoots Club consists of about 25 dedicated students in Grades 3 through 7. They meet once a week at lunchtime to learn about and take action on environmental and humanitarian issues.

"The students wanted to share what they learned with others who used the trail,'' added Joyce. "They are very excited that the new loop trail and interpretive signs will be in the park as a legacy to the community long after they have moved on to high school and university.

"Moreover, our school has always advocated for the environment and promoted green initiatives like our main annual school fundraiser, Ecostravaganza, which promotes green living to Island residents.

This year's Ecostravaganza takes place on Saturday, June 7 from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. at Ecole Cobble Hill and includes a marketplace featuring local eco-vendors, a plant sale, a food court, live stage, used book sale, silent auction and a children's Green Generation activity area.

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