Conestoga news

April 26, 2024 12:29 PM

Volunteers gather to clean communities for Earth Day

Students and volunteers from the Conestoga community gathered to clean up locations in Kitchener and Brantford on April 22 to celebrate Earth Day and give back to the community.

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Earth Day clean-up activities in Brantford, near the college's downtown campus. Volunteers also gathered to clean the area surrounding the Kitchener - Doon campus.

Over 70 students participated and were provided with bags and gloves as they scoured the streets and lawns of neighbourhoods near Conestoga campuses in the two cities, picking up 35 bags of litter.

“Their efforts not only helped to clean communities, but also build communities as these kinds of activities are an important way for students to meet and connect with one another,” said Carolyn Keays, programmer, Student Engagement.

Sofia Gavrilova, a student in the Bachelor of Environmental Public Health program, found her participation to be educational and rewarding in many ways.

“I participated in a similar event last year, so I knew I’d get to meet new people with the same interests, like cleaning and environmentalism, and I got to learn new things about recycling.”

“I also feel that it’s a way to give back to the community. I am on campus here to study everyday, so it was nice to do something for the people around here. It’s very rewarding when you see that the street behind you is super clean.”

Gavrilova was part of a group of students who cleaned the neighbourhoods surrounding the college’s Kitchener - Doon campus.

Essein Edim, a student in the Applied Energy Management - Renewable Energy program, was part of the same group and added that some residents even took time to show their appreciation.

“We had a couple of households thanking us for participating today, so that was special,” said Edim, who also added that larger goals and duties helped encourage him to participate.

“We need the Earth more than it needs us, so I think it’s our duty to take care of the environment.”

Mo Eyitsedu, a Mechanical System Engineering student and student ambassador, articulated the impacts that clean-ups like this have, as they provide the opportunity to focus on a deeper level.

“It wasn’t all larger items. We picked up a lot of tiny trash, so you realize that if there aren’t initiatives like this, nobody would ever pick that up.”

In Brantford, the clean-up focused on the downtown core, where the campus is located. Keays noted that locals in Brantford also stopped to thank Conestoga students for their efforts.

“Our students are so keen to dedicate their time to causes they care about; their individual understandings of the importance of environmental sustainability have a collective impact when they work together. Seeing them connect with other students who have the same interests and passions, exchange knowledge and build skills, and put down roots in communities that they care about is so meaningful,” added Keays.

The events were held to commemorate Earth Day, which celebrates environmentalism and promotes activities that help to build awareness and inspire change around the world. This year’s global theme focused on the harms of plastics and the goal of a 60% reduction in plastics production by 2040. 

“Our Earth Day activities promote civic engagement and environmental initiatives to empower students to be responsible and thoughtful citizens and neighbours, and demonstrate how we as a community have a collective responsibility for the health of our environment,” said Amy Baird, associate director, Student Experience.

“This truly is a community-building effort, and I extend sincere gratitude to our amazing students and team.”

Conestoga is committed to events and initiatives that promote education and action on the environment. The college’s Milton campus has also planned a clean-up event in May.

Full details for the Milton clean-up will be posted on the Student Success Portal.

Conestoga's Student Engagement meets the needs of students through innovative programming designed to achieve goals with learning outcomes-based initiatives, including the Co-Curricular Record; Orientation; equity, diversity and inclusion education and programming; the Leadership Workshop series; and various student volunteer and committee opportunities.