School planting sustainability seeds in Riverton

A class at Aparima College in Riverton is laying foundations for a sustainable future in the town.

The business studies class, which features years 12 and 13 students, has been actively involved in several projects throughout the year aimed at bringing sustainable projects to, not only the school, but the entire town.

A core element of their class is the Lions Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES), which enables students to “unleash their inner entrepreneur and experience the start-up world first-hand”.

The national programme is run throughout schools across the country, but Aparima College business studies teacher Lynne Grove said students at the school had taken the scheme to new heights.

She said students in business studies choose to be part of the YES programme and meet four times a week to discuss ideas to meet the criteria of the scheme.

“We’ve been running it for the last eight years. They form companies and come up with something, which they think is really important, and they run with that enterprise. It’s very much about sustainability, community and part of it is they actually have to give back to the community in some way.”

Last week students created a Facebook ‘surplus’ page which enables locals to connect with the class in helping out with sustainable activities.

The first planned activity was to request vegetables from locals – particularly those that are no longer usable or on the cusp of being thrown out – to make soup for students at the school.

In the first 24 hours of launching the page it received more than 120 likes, with interest from the local environment centre and other community organisations.

Mrs Grove said she believed the page was the first of its kind to come from the YES programme.

Other projects run through the scheme included a series of pizza lunches, which have raised more than $600 for a variety of cancer charities including breast cancer, skin cancer and the Blair Vining Foundation.

Year 12 student Alexis Halder said she enjoyed being part of the class as it enabled students to help set up a more sustainable future.

She said the idea behind receiving the vegetables for the soup was just the beginning of what they wanted to achieve, with plans for raised garden beds and growing vegetables on school grounds also planned.

Outside of the YES programme, the class was recently awarded $10,000 as part of the national TREEmendous scheme, which will be used to plant over 350 trees and create an outdoor classroom environment on the school grounds.

A path and fence have been put in place near the school’s rugby ground, with a special tree planting event happening this Saturday to get the native and heritage trees in the ground.

Mrs Groves said she was excited for the trees to go in and said the finished space would be a great area for students to get outside and enjoy a different type of classroom to learn in as well as being able to learn about plant ecosystems.

She said having the class get behind sustainability was a positive thing for the entire community.

“There is that feeling that we do need to be a sustainable community. Because being right down here on the south coast we don’t really get recognised by other agencies or the government either. If we can do this for ourselves then… we’ve got all the skills we need it’s just a matter of sharing them.”

This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here

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