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EnviRoyals making an impact locally and globally

World leaders gathering for the COP 28 UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai this week will have the opportunity to hear student perspectives on climate change, including students from the Cold Lake High School EnviRoyals club.

“This was an opportunity to talk about things that are affecting us and what youth want to see the government changing,” said Amelia Gurski, one of five CLHS students who helped draft the Canadian Youth Climate Manifesto with students from across Canada last spring. “We want our voices to be heard. Eventually we will be taking over and this is a way for the government to hear what we want our future to look like.”

Gurski, along with fellow EnviRoyals Sara Iftikhar, Maia Hanson, Joe Matthew and Rhon Malonzo connected with students from across Canada in April to compile survey findings and anecdotal comments and write the manifesto. Iftikhar was then part of the team that presented the manifesto to a panel that included Senator Rosa Galvez, Laniel Bateman from Environment and Climate Change Canada, as well as the directors of Ocean Wise and Green Learning. The document written by the Canadian students was then combined with youth manifestos from other countries to create a Global Youth Climate Manifesto that is being shared in Dubai this month. 

This is just one of the projects that the EnviRoyals have been involved in at the school, community and global levels with an environmental focus. In partnership with The Centre for Global Education (CGE), the students are connected with a different school each year to share information and ideas. Last year they focused on food security and were connected to a school in Argentina. This year they are partnered with schools in Trinidad and Tobago.

“We started a community fridge at our school so people can grab food when they need it,” said Hanson. “And we started to plant garden towers to grow food for the school cafeteria.”

The club received a grant from Whole Kids Foundation to cover the cost of two towers that provide produce for the school’s cafeteria and foods classes. 

Last year’s projects also included helping the food bank by unloading pallets for food hampers, picking up garbage in conjunction with the MD Spring Highway Clean-up, and helping with Cold Lake’s community garden and recycling at the Energy Centre, explained Jaydan Gustafson. The students are also collecting egg shells in the school’s foods classes that will be used as compost in the community garden this spring. They have also set up collection bins that are placed throughout the math and science rooms to promote battery recycling.

The students also made wren houses last year from wood scraps and recycled materials like coffee cans. The House Wren is the wren species most commonly found in Alberta. Students were able to take the bird houses home, paint them and put them up for the Wrens to enjoy. 

The group also chooses a conservation project to support each year. 

“We survey the group to decide where to donate,” said Gustafson. “Last year we donated to carbon capture to lower our carbon footprint, we also donated to replant trees in the Amazon rainforest.”

In October, 12 EnviRoyals attended the Youth Climate Conference held in Canmore and Sara Iftikhar presented her climate story, accompanied by Cordelia Heibert on piano, as part of the “Extreme Hangout” event hosted by the CGE. 

“The conference was a way to expose ourselves to information about how climate change affects all of us,” explained Iftikhar. “My presentation was focused on wildlife and the impacts experienced in different parts of the world.”

Amelia Gurski said the club is discussing a few options for projects and events this year and looking at fun ways to engage other students.

“We talked about having a trashion show around Earth Day,” she said. “Students would wear recycled clothing that is either thrifted or made from recycled materials.”

The club is considering a Night Sky project that would compare the light pollution in the city to the rural area and how that affects how people and animals see the night sky. Jessica Walsh explained that they are also working on connecting with a local beekeeper to expand on a bee conservation project they started last year that involved planting flowers and making beeswax wraps.

Together these students choose to work on projects that make a difference for both people and the planet, and they are positively impacting their school, local and global communities.

The Cold Lake High School EnviRoyals Club is the Northern Lights Public School’s Student Shining Star for the month of December. Each month during the 2023-2024 school year, NLPS is featuring different Shining Stars and celebrating their contributions and accomplishments.