Jasmine Lee first discovered a passion for the environment when watching a Taiwanese newscast with her dad.
The program was on the benefits of aquaponics, small scale systems that use fish feces to fertilize plants for cultivation.
“We decided that we were going to start it here,” said Lee, a Grade 12 student at R.E. Mountain Secondary.
“That was initially just a project. Then the more I researched, and the more I learned about the environment, the more I realized it was crucial to do something. It was crucial to even take part in just a little bit of change.”
That led Lee, and her older sister, Samantha, to create the Aquaponics Club at R.E. Mountain Secondary, and to begin building the systems with other students.
For her efforts, Lee was awarded the youth Environmental Hero Award last year.
Using a $500 honorarium from the prize, Lee and 20 other students are continuing these efforts through the newly established R.E. Mountain Sustainability Corps. They were able to purchase more materials to construct aquaponics systems, and expand the program to the U-Connect Centre at Simonds Elementary School.
This year the group has also started working with the Plastic Bank — an organization that monetizes waste — and have submitted a campaign to reduce plastics in oceans to the BC Green Games.
“I think it’s just an incredible honour. It came as a huge surprise for me because I didn’t know I had been nominated until after I was nominated,” Lee said of the award.
“I think it’s really important to participate in all of these things, because it definitely adds to being a person. It adds to being a global citizen. It contributes to character, to collaboration, and there’s so many skills you can learn as a leader or as a participant in change.”
As a former winner, Lee encourages residents to nominate their fellow community members for the 2018 Langley Environmental Hero Awards.
Submissions can be made until April 20 in three categories: youth (aged 18 and younger), individual and organization/business.
“I think it’s important to nominate people who are making change, because in turn, we can continue to inspire other people to make change as well. Stuff that’s happening right now isn’t stuff that’s going to be taken care of by one person in one year. We spent so many years creating these problems, so we have to spend many more to catch up,” she said.
“I think it’s important to see the youth nominated, especially, because we are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. And it’s important to see those individuals, those organization being nominated, to see where we can go. It shows the youth what they can become.”
Anyone who puts forward a name for consideration will be asked to fill out a nomination form, briefly describing the nominee’s actions and explaining why they consider the person, group or business to be an environmental hero.
Winners will be announced on Saturday, June 9 during a ceremony at the Fort Langley National Historic Site. Those chosen will be recognized with a plaque and heritage apple tree planted in their honour, and will receive $500 to donate to the environmental organization of their choice.
Nomination forms can be picked up from Langley-Aldergrove MP Mark Warawa’s constituency office, 4769 222 St., or downloaded from the MP’s website at markwarawa.com. Send completed forms by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail (postage free) to Mark Warawa, MP 104 — 4769 222 St. Langley B.C. V2Z 3C1.