News Release: Eco YOLO Replants Gregoire Lake Provincial Park
(Fort McMurray, AB, June 5, 2018) An estimated 400 grade seven and eight students from École McTavish Junior High School came together on June 1 to replant Gregoire Lake Provincial Park with 2470 White Spruce trees. The project was spearheaded by Eco YOLO, the school’s environmental sustainability group made up of Krish Shah, Chintan Desai, Lokesh Patel, Heet Shah, Priyank Dave, and Parth Desai. It was made possible with funding from Chevrolet Canada, Alberta Parks, and the Alberta Emerald Foundation.
Additional support was provided by Tree Canada, Intact Insurance, Caring for Our Watersheds, and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
Eco YOLO launched the project last year when 200 students replanted Saprae Creek with 1650 trees. Gregoire Lake Provincial Park re-opened on May 17, 2018 following the wildfires when approximately 2500 hectares of the area was burned. This is why the group chose it for phase two.
Krish Shah, 14, is a grade nine student at École McTavish, who pitched the idea for the project two years ago after the wildfires.
“It feels awesome. Last year we piloted this. From that we’ve doubled the amount of students who are here, and almost doubled the amount of trees planted. To see our dream come true, and as kids, to make this happen - is great,” noted Krish.
Chintan Desai, also a ninth grader, and co-founder, Eco YOLO, dubbed the experience “surreal.”
“But, it feels great. We finally achieved what we planned all year. There’s so much that goes into this event, and to finally see it happen is super surreal.”
“Gregoire Lake is the only beach we have. It’s the go-to place for families. So many people lost the only place to go camping, boating, and have fun. To finally help rebuild, and replant the trees, and help Gregoire Lake flourish again is a good feeling,” Chintan, 14, added.
For Krish, “student engagement” is also a big piece of what Eco YOLO does.
“Not only are we trying to protect the environment, but we are teaching kids what it means to protect the environment, and why this is important,” he shared.
Robynn Moody, Eco YOLO advisor, and Science teacher at École McTavish Junior High School was proud of her students. She evacuated to Gregoire Lake Provincial Park on May 3 when the wildfires began, so the return was emotional as well.
“It’s pretty inspiring to see what a group of teens can do. Starting last year, they have now brought out about 600 students and planted 4000 trees. They’ve brought national attention to this issue. It’s great to have Fort McMurray Public School District and École McTavish support the kids. District leadership is always there for the students, and when students want to do something for the community, they get on board immediately. This wouldn’t be possible without FMPSD, and all our sponsors. Thank you everyone,” Moody commented.
Shyla Wiest, Area Manager for Fort McMurray-Athabasca, Alberta Parks, helped Eco YOLO oversee the replanting along with her team. She was impressed by the students’ enthusiasm to help.
“From the beginning, we were looking for partners to replant the area. When we heard about Eco YOLO, we were pretty blown away by their passion, and drive. This a great example of what youth can do,” Wiest said.
Superintendent Doug Nicholls was impressed by the students, and appreciated the ongoing project.
“We pride ourselves on being a green District with many environmental initiatives across many schools. Eco YOLO is a prime example of the good things that come about when action-oriented students come together. I want to congratulate them, and École McTavish staff for continuing to do a great job for our community. This is their legacy.”
Event photo album can be seen here.
For more information, please contact:
Fort McMurray Public School District #2833