View Royal Elementary school student Caitlin Perdue, 8, removes invasive English Ivy at Portage Park last week. As part of the event, which was a collaboration between the Greater Victoria Green Team, the Town of View Royal and the Victoria Foundation, 300 students helped in the revitalization of the park. Find the story on A4. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Green Team program encourages students to be stewards of environment

View Royal Elementary students helped remove English Ivy from Portage Park

Hundreds of elementary-school children invaded Portage Park in View Royal last week, but it was all for a good cause.

Roughly 300 students, teachers and some parents pulled on yellow gloves and strapped on their boots to help remove invasive English Ivy from a section of the local park on Thursday and Friday.

“It’s been an amazing day, a lot of work has happened already. The energy is very high,” said Amanda Evans, program manager of the Greater Victoria Green Team, who, in collaboration with the Town of View Royal, and with funding from the Victoria Foundation, put on the two-day event.

“It’s a great opportunity for local schools because they can take pride in the park that they visit and really think of themselves as stewards of this park … It was hard to get them [the kids] to stop working.”

In the first few hours of day one, students removed close to six cubic metres of invasive plants from the area. Organizers hoped to remove the species from at least 100 square metres of the park by Friday.

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But this isn’t the first time View Royal students have been involved in an initiative like this. In 2016, students helped clear English Ivy from another section of the park, and in 2017, students from Shoreline Middle School continued that work.

“We’re hoping that we’re creating future volunteers and that they’re going to take ownership of the park and care for it and look after it – see it as their park,” said Chris Junck, co-ordinator of habitat restoration volunteers with the Town.

“Long-term what we see in other areas is that it [keeping the park clean] seems to cut down on things like vandalism and litter, and people start really looking after and caring for their park.”

RELATED: View Royal students take classroom outdoors with Green Team project

Grade 5 student Max Williams said the initiative has taught him a lot about English Ivy.

“I learned that ivy invades trees and stuff way more than I thought,” he said. “It was fun pulling out ivy.”

Ten-year-old Madyson agreed and hopes to continue removing the species from other areas, beginning with the English Ivy in her backyard.

“I have some in my backyard so I can do that,” she said.


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A volunteer with the Greater Victoria Green Team hands out gloves to View Royal Elementary school students during day one of a two-day revitalization event at Portage Park, where students removed invasive English Ivy last week. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

View Royal Elementary school student Eyuel Dibike, 9, removes invasive English Ivy at Portage Park last week. As part of the event, which was a collaboration between the Greater Victoria Green Team, the Town of View Royal and the Victoria Foundation, 300 students helped in the revitalization of the park. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Amanda Evans (left), program manager of the Greater Victoria Green Team, speaks to View Royal Elementary school students during day one of a two-day revitalization event at Portage Park, where students removed invasive English Ivy last week. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

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