All Stories

Day 6: Heather Coey sees a green future ahead

BC Green Games is an eco-storytelling contest that gives students a chance to amplify their green initiatives. Today, our On The Road team is out visiting schools that participated in the program to reward them with hands-on science fun and a certificate ceremony.

Heather Coey of Reynolds Secondary has been involved in BC Green Games from its inception eight years ago. Her work developing eco-leaders has seen Reynolds Secondary develop a reputation for outstanding sustainability education. Today, she shares what science and innovation means to her, why she loves teaching and how BC Green Games has helped to promote lasting change in her community.

HC: Human beings are pretty amazing creatures! The power of our brain is phenomenal. Not too long ago, I visited the Boeing Everett Center in Washington. It’s the world’s largest building by volume; if I remember correctly, the floor space of one building, where I was able to observe various Boeing aircraft being constructed, was equivalent to twenty-six football fields! The assembly line was incredible; across multiple levels, creating all manner of aircraft parts and operating systems, building massive hunks of metal that can fly through the air!

When I took a look at that and marveled at what humans could accomplish through science, I knew our brains were capable of pretty much everything and anything including finding a way to live sustainably on our planet and having an excellent quality of life, as well. In fact, we have all the technology and knowledge we need—it all exists. We just need the will and the organization through individuals, communities and all levels of government to make it happen. That is the innovation we need today.   

Einstein is quoted as saying that the definition of insanity is something to the effect of, “doing what you have always done and expecting different results.” Thus, we need students who can think outside the box more than ever. One of the reasons Reynolds participates in the BC Green Games every year is to push us to continuously think of new ideas to apply to the challenge of living sustainably on our planet. It is a motivator and inspires us by giving schools the opportunity to share what they are doing—maybe someone else can piggy-back on an idea of ours and come up with something even better or we can do that with someone else's idea. 

Our involvement every year, including involving our wider community by sharing what we are doing has helped build a culture at our school where “green initiatives” are becoming common-place and are expected. Part of that is because we maintain almost all our green initiatives, they are seldom one-offs. We maintain our recycling program, salad bar program, courtyard garden, hydroponics and chicken fostering program to name our most significant projects and continue to work to make them stronger and district-wide. That makes projects like Green It Forward this year particularly important because we are at the point where we really need to find ways to replicate ourselves and support others along their journey in order to reach a tipping point.

We can also push projects deeper now and engage in creating infrastructure that will make a lasting difference. We are working on a project now that will create food and garden policy within the Victoria School District, allowing partnerships with farmer co-ops to actually grow food on school grounds and supply our salad bar programs. Community connections are significant for schools on this "green journey" as they can be the key to sustainable practices in schools—so they can be long lasting and not just end when certain students graduate or certain teachers retire.  

It is exciting—like the Boeing Center, what we have accomplished hints at what is possible.  It also shows us that one individual does not make a Boeing 747 on their own, it is a collective endeavor, a synergistic process utilizing the talents of the many. Who knows what seeds have been fertilized in the minds of our students as they graduate and move forward with their lives, and what further connections they will make knowing the value of community in making things happen. That is what makes being a teacher so awesome. We know the future is full of hope! :-)

Need a way to inspire some enthusiasm for the environment? 

Try out our Reuse Challenge activity and get creative with re-purposing discarded objects instead of purchasing new craft supplies.

Take a look at Heather Coey's BC Green Games projects for 2016. If your class or your high school student is keen to tell their green story, registrations for the program begin October 1, 2016. Save the date!