Tanya Randhawa, Grade 9 student at Seaquam Secondary has been awarded the Young Conservationist Scholarship for demonstrating conservation excellence in completion of a six-month self-directed community conservation initiative. Tanya’s project involved adopting the Pinewood Elementary School Rain Garden in June 2022, with the assistance of Cougar Creek Streamkeeper, Deborah Jones.
“My main goal for this project was to spread awareness and get younger children engaged with the green spaces around them, so I contacted Principal Doukas at Pinewood Elementary to see how I might best engage with students there. Ms. Doukas referred me to Elisa Melan, Grade 5 teacher and over the next few months, I delivered presentations to her class.”
Tanya’s first presentation to the students was an introduction to the Rain Garden, how it was planted and the basic anatomy of a Rain Garden. “At this presentation, I asked students about activities they were interested in and any other questions they may have. At my next presentation in December 2022, I answered their questions and went into more detail about why Rain Gardens are important in a society where there is so much development and not nearly enough plants and open space.”
In January 2023, Tanya, her brother and Deborah planted a batch of daffodil bulbs to see how well they will grow in the Rain Garden, as the most common activity the students requested was to be able to plant something in the Rain Garden. Tanya hopes to be able to get involved in more hands-on activities with the kids after spring break, once the weather improves.
“The inspiration for my project came from a Think Global, Plan & Lead Local workshop, hosted by Youth4Action, that I was part of in March of 2022, as well as a school club at Seaquam, STEMastery,” said Tanya. “In STEMastery, a group of high school students mentor students in grades 5-7 in STEM related topics. I really enjoyed being a part of both these initiatives and thought my conservation project would be a great way of combining the things I had learned from them. I really hope that the Grade 5 students remember what they have learned from my work with them. I feel it is extremely important that we keep children engaged with these sorts of projects so they can build connections and understand that their future depends on the actions they take.”
After high school, Tanya hopes to pursue a career in the medical field, while continuing to participate in conservation-related events and volunteering where she can. Her ultimate aim is to become a family doctor as she has a passion for connecting with people and problem solving.
The Young Conservationist Scholarship Program (https://bcwf.bc.ca/young-conservationist-scholarship-program/) highlights the drive of passionate youth by giving them the tools they need to be conservation leaders in their communities and beyond. Each year, up to 25 environmentally-minded youth are selected to join the program, collaborate in a cohort of like-minded peers, engage in an environmental conference and facilitate their own start-to-finish conservation project.