Boots were the order of the day for most Grade 6 students from a class taught by Rosalind Cloutier at Yorkson Middle School. They took part in field studies along the banks of Yorkson Creek on Feb. 19

Boots were the order of the day for most Grade 6 students from a class taught by Rosalind Cloutier at Yorkson Middle School. They took part in field studies along the banks of Yorkson Creek on Feb. 19

Yorkson students learn about importance of namesake

A unique environmental education program has started in Langley, involving students from Yorkson Middle School.

Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) has partnered with  Earth Force and General Motors Canada to launch General Motors Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN). It is a unique environmental education program that is one of a kind in B.C.

For the past 25 years, GREEN engaged young people as active citizens who improve conditions in their watersheds now and in the future.

Dr. William Stapp of the University of Michigan founded the GREEN program in 1984. What began as a group of graduate students seeking a way to investigate cases of individuals who had contracted hepatitis from the Huron River grew to a broad network of citizens working to address the issues and threats facing their local water resources.

With the addition of support from General Motors in 1989 and Earth Force in 1999, the program grew to include all GM facility communities across the U.S. This evolution introduced a critical collaborative model that has since informed all of the work at Earth Force.

Locally-based organizations, mentors from General Motors, and Earth Force come together to support young people in learning more about the watersheds they live in and using their findings to create lasting solutions to pressing water quality issues.

Since then, Earth Force has developed GM GREEN collaboratives in 26 communities throughout the U.S., engaging over 150,000 young people as environmental leaders. In 2014 the GREEN program expanded into seven new communities in Canada, and expanded programming in one existing community, Oshawa.

General Motors operates a regional office and parts warehouse in Langley, in Gloucester Industrial Park.

Three classes of students in Grades 6 and 8 at Yorkson Middle School are participating in the GREEN program and learning about water quality issues in Langley. They had the opportunity to do some field study on Wednesday, Feb. 18.

“Students had the opportunity to conduct field studies on Yorkson Creek, which flows through Willoughby and Walnut Grove, and learn the scientific process of water quality testing and aquatic insect identification, as well as the opportunity to work to create solutions to water quality issues that are significant here in their own community,” said Sarah Atherton, interim executive director, LEPS.

The expansion of the program brings new opportunities for youth from the U.S. to connect with students in Canada to learn about the similarities and differences they face when working to improve their environment.