The Vancouver School District's BC Hydro Energy Ambassadors, a group of high school students, presented their findings and initiatives on energy conservation to the Vancouver School Board Trustees at a board meeting held on June 20th. After the presentation students and trustees engaged in a lively discussion where trustees inquired about the students' findings and their views on how awareness and engagement toward energy conservation and sustainability may be increased in the community. The ambassadors also made recommendations, such as the creation of a student advisory group to support the district's sustainability goals and efforts, energy efficient building improvements and appliance use and support for school and community gardens, to name a few. The students received praise from the trustees for their leadership on energy conservation and sustainability.
The BC Hydro Energy Ambassadors program focuses on awareness, action and leadership in terms of energy conservation and is offered by BC Hydro to students from grades 8-12, at no cost to the school district. In total, between 40-50 students from five secondary schools, Sir Winston Churchill, Ideal Mini School, Lord Byng, Gladstone and Killarney participated in the program.
Throughout the school year the Energy Ambassadors participated in workshops to develop leadership and presentation skills, developed environmental clubs, provided Environmental Tips of the Day at their schools, participated in Earth Day, Bottle Water Free Day and many other events. As part of the program they conducted behavior surveys and asked students and staff to monitor their energy habits and perform energy audits to measure usage. The students were then able to use this information to communicate to other students and to the school ways to conserve energy and the value of lowering the school's energy and carbon footprint.
Alice Paul (photo above), Churchill Secondary School Energy Ambassador and a grade 11 student found her experience in the program to be extremely rewarding. Paul wholeheartedly recommends the program as it taught her important lesions not just in the realm of energy conservation, but also in leadership, teamwork, public speaking and community mindedness. While she recognizes that there is much to be done to educate people on this issue she's hopeful that efforts like her own and her Energy Ambassador colleagues can elicit change.
"Giving the elementary school presentations reminded me about the amount of opportunity youth have to make a difference in this world and it made me feel good about the efforts I am making to change my school community," she says.
The variety and creativity displayed by this outstanding crop of students impressed Gavin Clark of BC Hydro School Programs, who was their mentor and advisor for this program.
"The Energy Ambassadors have demonstrated that given the right tools and support, motivated and passionate students can achieve amazing and lasting results to the benefit of their school, district, and community," he says.
The school district's Manager for Energy and Climate Action, Kirthi Roberts, also supported the students with their efforts. "I am pleased to see a broader array of recommendations made by the students this year that target energy conservation and the advancement of sustainability in a more comprehensive manner," said Roberts.
This year BC Hydro offered a $1000 Conservation Grant to ambassador teams who completed the program and proposed an energy conservation project for their school. Clearly their work has been exceptional and an inspiration to others.