John Bars-Bee Garden Club co-chairs Cohen Inglis and Hope Stewart show off their Bee City School certification with school garden facilitator Christopher Brown and sponsor teacher Janet Nelson. The school is the first in B.C. to be named a Bee City School for its commitment to enhance pollinator habitat and help elementary students learn to be environmental stewards. TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/News Bulletin

Student club buzzing about bees

John Barsby first Bee City School in B.C.

A new John Barsby club is all abuzz about bees.

The secondary school has earned its stripes as the first designated Bee City School in the province thanks to John Bars-Bee Club, which is enhancing pollinator habitat and helping elementary students learn to be stewards of the planet, according to Bee City Canada, a national organization dedicated to education and protection of pollinator habitat.

It’s the eighth school in the country to get the title, a recognition of a commitment to help pollinators through a garden, education and a celebration of international pollinator week in June.

Shelly Candel, Bee City Canada executive director and founder, said the program is a way that students get connected to a worldwide problem – the decline of pollinators – and take action to do something about it. There are teenagers in eastern Canada who have gone on to get their municipalities to commit to becoming bee cities.

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The 17-member John Barsby Secondary club, as part of a Grade 12 leadership class, has worked once a week with Georgia Avenue Elementary students to help them plant seeds and learn about bees and pollen. There are also plans to add pollinator-friendly plants to John Barsby’s garden, have signs that identify the plants and their uses and to host a movie night for the community.

To be a Bee City School means to create a community and awareness about caring about pollination, the environment, bees and the world we live in, said bee club co-chair Hope Stewart, 17.

If bees weren’t pollinating to create vegetables and plants that are consumed daily, she said grocery stores would be empty.

“There’s so many parts in life that actually would be affected and will be affected if we don’t do something. We’re people out here, we can help the little guys, we can do our part to make things better,” said Stewart.

Cohen Inglis, 17, also co-chair, said being named a Bee City School is great for the school and community and he’s excited about it.

Christopher Brown, school garden facilitator and co-sponsor for the club, said pollinators are in trouble right now because of habitat loss and food systems are in trouble right now because of pollinator loss. As students become aware of the importance of preserving habitat for pollinators, he said they start to learn about food systems, nature and ecosystems and it’s empowering because individuals and communities can start to take action.

“This is a project that any school can take on and any community group can take on, because it’s about environmental stewardship. It’s about creating spaces for wildlife, wildlife corridors and garden spaces,” he said.

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