The Ring

Nature, meet nurture: 2014 Staff Sustainability Champion Award

Thu, 2014-04-10 10:14

Adult team members, L-R: Alishan, Yazbeck, Pickup and Wilson.
Sustainability champions, young and old. Adult team members, L-R: Alishan, Yazbeck, Pickup and Wilson. Photo: UVic Photo Svc.

The idea is simple: teach children about the importance of connecting to nature when they’re young, and they’ll grow into environmental leaders.

On March 16, Sherri-Lynn Yazbeck and her team at UVic Child Care Services were awarded the 2014 Staff Sustainability Champion Award for their environmental engagement programs. The award was presented by UVic Vice-President Finance and Operations Gayle Gorrill.

Yazbeck and her team of educators—Batool Alishan, Ann Pickup and Julia Wilson—provide nature-based learning for children aged 3-5. They promote hands-on learning for issues related to the environment and teach children the importance of environmental stewardship.

One example of how Yazbeck and her team engage children is through the maintenance of a community garden plot at the Campus Community Garden. The kids plant seeds that are harvested and served as snacks at the child care facility. Extra food is donated to the UVSS food bank.

They also have a herb garden, where staff and children grow herbs and food plants. Some of the herbs are turned into environmentally friendly and sustainable Christmas gifts.

Walks through Haro Woods and other parks in and around campus are another way to engage children and encourage a strong sense of connection and awareness to natural spaces. The kids name various natural landmarks, giving them significance, and they are also aware of any litter or vandalism.

By implementing a nature-focused program and a wide range of learning activities in natural settings, Yazbeck and her team are providing an innovative service to the university and broader community, demonstrating by example how sustainability can be modeled and implemented for future generations.

“This award doesn’t just belong to us,” Yazbeck said with a smile as she accepted the award, “It’s as much the kids’ award as ours.”