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'Environmental Heroes' honoured at tree planting ceremony

From left, Langley City Mayor Ted Schafer, Mike Starr, Dianne Kask, Les Clay, Tracy Stobbe, Kristin Cassie, Langley MP Mark Warawa, Frank Bucholtz, and Township of Langley Councillor David Davis. - Submitted photo
From left, Langley City Mayor Ted Schafer, Mike Starr, Dianne Kask, Les Clay, Tracy Stobbe, Kristin Cassie, Langley MP Mark Warawa, Frank Bucholtz, and Township of Langley Councillor David Davis.
— image credit: Submitted photo

Langley MP Mark Warawa and members of the 2014 Environmental Hero Nominations Committee commemorated Langley’s Environmental Heroes with the planting of a heritage apple tree at Fort Langley National Historic Site last week.

A bronze plaque will be cemented near the tree to mark their outstanding contributions.

“One of our responsibilities as Canadians is to be good stewards of the land that we are so fortunate to live in. Here in Langley there are many people who passionately strive to protect our environment,” said Warawa.

“The Langley Environmental Hero Awards was created in 2006 to celebrate the difference that environmental heroes make in our community. This tree and plaque will serve as a lasting reminder of the need to work together to protect a beautiful, abundant environment.”

The winners of the 2014 Langley Environmental Hero Awards were announced at the Canada Day Celebrations at Willoughby Community Park on July 1.

In the individual category, Dianne Kask won the prestigious award for her work at Parkside Centennial Elementary School over the last 12 years. She organized and ran the “Environmental Scientific investigators” club at the school, arranged for presenters to teach students on important environmental topics, and raised funds for a “seaquarium” to be installed and managed in the school.

In the organization/business category, the Arboretum and Botanical Society of Langley was awarded for its environmental stewardship in Langley over the past several years. The arboretum board members and volunteers have run numerous meetings, worked countless hours, and laboured at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum.

Roots & Wings Montessori School also won in the organization/business category for educating its students about sustainable living and how to practice ecological principles in all they do. To exemplify this, principal Kristin Cassie led students from the school in singing the school pledge at the ceremony.

At the event, each winner was given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the importance of preserving the environment.

“We need to protect the precious natural environment that we have in Canada. I feel to do this we need to have young people grow up with a love for it and knowledge of what they can do to protect it,” said Dianne Kask.

Les Clay, representing the Arboretum and Botanical Society of Langley, said, "It is important to maintain our environment to maintain our flora and fauna for our future generations’ enjoyment.”

Kristin Cassie, representing Roots & Wings Montessori School, said, “If we want to see the changes necessary to ensure the survival of our planet, we have to start with the children. In our changing world, we cannot afford to continue seeing earth stewardship as a peripheral part of children’s education.  When our children learn, through connection with their natural world, to love their planet, they will live the passion that is necessary to save it.”

Following a nomination process, the Environmental Heroes were chosen by a nominations committee, made of representatives from each of the sponsoring organization: Frank Bucholtz, Editor of Langley Times; Sarah Atherton, Interim Executive Director of Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS); Mike Starr, Manager of Visitor Services at Ft. Langley National Historic Site of Canada; and Langley Member of Parliament Mark Warawa. For the ceremony, Tracy Stobbe, Chair of LEPS’s Board of Directors, represented the organization in Atherton’s stead. Langley City Mayor Ted Schaffer and Township Councillor David Davis were also in attendance to bring greetings.

The Langley Environmental Hero Award began in 2006 as a way to recognize Langley's grassroots efforts, big and small, to protect the environment. It quickly became clear that environmental stewardship in Langley is an issue which people are passionate about.  Nominations have since expanded to honour environmental initiatives by individuals, businesses, organizations and youth.

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