Thanks to this Vancouver-based nonprofit, Canada’s young people are falling deeply in love with nature, and they’re banding together to fight for nature conservation in their communities.
On the morning of August 4, 2014, a dam near the Mount Polley copper and gold mine in the Cariboo region of British Columbia suffered a fatal breach and released 14.5 million cubic metres, or 3,830 U.S. gallons, of toxic water and mud into nearby Polley Lake. The poisonous slurry tore through the landscape along Hazeltine and Cariboo Creek, destroying everything in its wake. Eventually, the sludge, which contained high levels of selenium, arsenic, and other poisonous metals, spilled into Quesnel Lake, once the cleanest deep water lake in the world.
While Canadian officials assessed infrastructure and environmental damage, issued water safety warnings for nearby communities, and began the lengthy cleanup process, Darcy Green, a passionate outdoorsman and student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, watched news coverage in horror.
“Seeing the footage on TV really disturbed me,” Darcy said. “That was what sparked the initial idea of forming my own environmental organization.”
Grieved but motivated, Darcy approached four of his closest friends, who now serve on his Board of Directors, with a plan to create a nonprofit organization tailored to Canadian environmentalists’ least-targeted age group: youth.
Their mission would be two-fold: (1) to encourage young people to spend more time outdoors and (2) to educate them about environmental issues and empower them to make a difference in their communities through nature conservation.
Darcy’s friends immediately backed the project and Drizzle Environmental Society was born.
“We really wanted to focus in on youth because, in 15 or 20 years, these kids that are going through high school and elementary school, they’re going to be making the decisions,” said Darcy. “So our idea was to be able to mobilize today’s youth in a way that connects them with nature.”
Drizzle’s main vehicle for teaching kids about nature is their Outdoors Club. Started in 2015, the hiking club hits the trails in and around Vancouver on every second weekend between March and October. Members pay $50 for their first year of participation and $25 for subsequent annual renewals.
Currently, the club is only open to high school and college students, but Darcy plans to expand the program to include elementary school students in the very near future – once the team can get a handle on the current program’s rapid growth, that is. As of February, they already had 40 youth waiting to join.
Darcy and the rest of Drizzle’s team are thrilled to see so many kids taking interest in the Society and discovering for themselves all of the joys and benefits to spending time outside exploring in nature – especially in a place as beautiful and pristinely wild as British Columbia.
“I think we feel better mentally when we are outdoors,” said Darcy, who grew up in BC himself. “Even taking a short walk can help reduce depressive thoughts.”
The Outdoors Club usually undertakes local day-hikes in and around Vancouver, but Darcy eventually wants to take the crew out on his favorite multi-day hike to Garibaldi Lake. The trailhead is located roughly 45 minutes north of Vancouver in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The crew would hike 9 kilometers, or 5.6 miles, out to Garibaldi Lake and set up camp along the shore. There, they would gain access to two more scenic trails: Panorama Ridge, which provides panoramic views of the Coast Mountain range and several alpine lakes and glaciers, and Black Tusk, a lengthy but rewarding hike that provides breathtaking views of the black stratavolcano and surrounding landscape.
Drizzle’s second initiative is called the Youth Environmental Challenge. Building on the mission of the Outdoors Club, this program challenges youth to commit to making at least five eco-friendly actions of any size per year. As Darcy explains it, qualifying action could be as simple as convincing one’s parents to recycle or as large as cleaning up a neighborhood park.
“It ties into our idea that a whole bunch of small actions can make a difference,” said Darcy. “And there’s an integrated social component and team component so that [youth] can share what they’re doing and work with their friends.”
As early as September, Drizzle hopes to partner with local schools to add a friendly competitive element to the program, allowing students from each school to band together to commit the most actions or bolster the highest participation percentage.
While most young people who get involved with Drizzle’s outreach programs have already cultivated a love for nature and understand the basic tenants of conservation, many of them haven’t been taught about the specific environmental issues facing Canada and the world — such as pipeline construction, climate change, and greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s where Drizzle comes in. Their team breaks these complex concepts down into simpler terms and encourages students about their role in saving the planet, giving kids the confidence to step out and inspire change in their communities.
“We do not expect youth to fully understand climate science at a complex level,” said Darcy, “But we want them to be aware of the issues going on and understand how they impact the world they live in.”
If Drizzle Environmental Society’s vision for empowering youth to become powerful, passionate conservationists resonates with your personal and travel values, there are several ways to lend your support — even if you don’t live in Canada.
Buy a t-shirt from Drizzle Apparel Co through their Crowdfunding Campaign – only available through April 2016!
Darcy and his team founded Drizzle Apparel Co. as a way to fund the nonprofit organization and allow people to creatively express their support for conservation efforts. For every shirt sold, 50% of the profits are allocated to support the Outdoors Club, Youth Environmental Challenge, and the Society’s other outreach initiatives. All of their clothing is manufactured using sustainable practices and high quality, environmentally-friendly materials. Head to https://startsomegood.com/drizzleapparelco now to get your shirt.
You can also meet up with the Outdoors Club while you’re traveling with your kids in British Columbia. Sometime in 2016, Darcy and his team hope to be able open the Outdoors Club’s hikes up to non-members who pay a small fee to temporarily join the crew for an adventure. Stay tuned on Drizzle’s social media channels for updates about when this program might launch!
Vancouver-based kiddos are, of course, welcome to join Drizzle’s Outdoors Club and participate in the Youth Environmental Challenge. Additionally, as Drizzle expands their Challenge program, they’re also going to be actively searching for sponsors who can donate prize incentives.
If you’re interested in collaborating with Darcy and his team on future projects or just want to say hello, email email@example.com.
Rebecca L. Bennett has always been good at two things: telling stories and having adventures. She’s rooted in Austin, Texas, where she captains her business, Brave Bird Photography, and writes words for Austin.com, PictureCorrect.com, and other kind folks who enjoy epic sentences. Rebecca feels most at home in her hiking boots and would likely survive a zombie apocalypse. rlbennett.net