By Jasmine Franklin
Crestomere School students don’t have to travel far to watch the project they have worked on for four years come to life right in their own backyard.
On May 12, Cargill Limited gave $6,000 to the school to cover remaining construction costs for the naturalization project students have created.
“This gives us a reason to be proud of our school and the work we have done,” said student Amy Rust. “We can say that we helped and were a part of this.”
For the past four years, the entire student body, from kindergarten to Grade 9, with the help of educational assistant Kathy Bogath, have been planning and designing a landscape for a portion of land behind the school. A sitting area, or outdoor classroom, complete with rock chips and sitting stones has already been installed however, the money from Cargill will help finish the project
“This really fits in with what Cargill is trying to do — encourage innovation,” said Dan Richardson, Cargill’s quality assurance manager. “It combines youth and the environment, and I am really excited about the progress. This will be hands-on learning for the kids.”
Cargill got involved with the project when Richardson heard about the students’ ideas on the radio a few years back. Last fall, students pitched their ideas to Richardson and Cargill and it was a done deal.
“That’s really what got me,” Richardson said. “When they pitched the idea to me they were all so passionate about it. I know it will be an ongoing sustainable program.”
Bogath said it’s a great feeling to see the project finally come to life and that it will be an asset to the school because students learn better outside and hands-on.
“I’m excited and the kids are excited,” Bogath said laughing. “I know some of the children were getting discouraged with the length of time this has been taking but I kept telling them just be persistent!”
With the outdoor classroom already in place, remaining design plans are: a pathway through the naturalization area; a bird and butterfly area that relates to science studies in insects and bird migratory patterns; a test garden; a dry creek bed with a bridge over top and apple trees, saskatoon berries, chokecherries and pumpkins are expected to be planted.
“Not many schools have this, so it’s really exciting and I think it’s awesome that literally, all ages of kids helped out,” said Grade 8 student Jen Sidwell. “We combined our best ideas together and came up with this.”
Bogath said in the future the school hopes to run a sale featuring the products they have grown.
The first year consisted of getting the students, faculty and community involved to set guidelines on specific designs and what would be feasible. In year 2, the school gave Bogath an option class for the project where students continued to work on designs during school time. Year 3 had students build a three-dimensional model of the naturalization project followed with an informational Power Point presentation. And in it’s fourth year the project is now being seen.
“It was crucial to have the support of everyone including the school and the community,” Bogath said. “I could not have done this alone — I mean the kids are doing it. We support, we encourage and we direct but it really is the kids.”
Cost of the project is estimated at $12,000. But through fundraising events, community and individual donations and $4,000 from school committees such as the anniversary fund, Bogath said with the addition of Cargill’s contribution, the costs are pretty well covered.