Olivia DesRoches: A Young Woman For Nature
Olivia DesRoches is a Young Woman for Nature, and a Grade 12 student at Hampton High School who first became involved with Nature Canada after receiving the Young Nature Leadership Grant, and then as a Women for Nature mentee.
The Young Nature Leadership Grant was awarded to Olivia for a project that her grade 11 Math class was hoping to get off the ground. Last Spring, after watching the documentary Before the Flood, Olivia and her classmates were motivated to do something that would help them and their community reduce their environmental impact.
Together, they decided to build a greenhouse at their school.
Evidently, such a project required a significant amount of funding, and as such, Olivia set out to find ways to fund the project. The first grant for which she applied, and later received, was the Young Nature Leadership Grant with Nature Canada. Being the first scholarship the group received, it served as the starting point that legitimized their project, and helped them begin to move forward.
After receiving the Nature Canada grant on Earth Day, in April of 2017, the students spent the remainder of the school year and summer working together to raise funds through the community and local businesses. Come September, the project was fully funded.
Planning for the greenhouse began in September of 2017, and the construction began soon after a groundbreaking ceremony for the greenhouse held in New Brunswick, to which the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, and Nature Canada’s Board of Directors, including a few Women For Nature members, attended.
Since then, groups of students aged between nine and eighteen years old have been working on the greenhouse. Two to three times a week after school, sometimes pulling classes to help with various parts of the construction, the students worked to get the greenhouse standing and airtight (protected from the elements) before the first snowfall, then began again after the weather started to ‘let up’ near the end of February.
Olivia’s love for nature and dedication to the planet is evident from her hard work and initiative. She said that spending time at summer camp as a camper and then counselor for the past five summers solidified her love for spending time in nature, and appreciation for the environment.
Going further than an average nature lover, and as a Young Woman for Nature and Young Nature Leadership Grant recipient, Olivia was flown out to Ottawa in November 2017 for the Nature Canada: Women for Nature Parliamentary reception. There she was able to speak with other Young Women for Nature and Women for Nature, and present her project to Parks Canada. She also met with Senator Griffin, who is the Honorary Chair of Women for Nature and Olivia’s local MP as well.
She said that being able to attend the reception was one of the most defining experiences of this entire project. To “be in a room with people my own age and women, and to have similar mindsets and similar goals was really empowering.”
Olivia is set to graduate from high school in the coming weeks, and to attend St Thomas University in Fredericton to pursue a Bachelor of Arts double major in Political Science and Psychology in the fall of 2018.
Despite not pursuing a degree specific to environmental sciences, her experience as a Young Woman for Nature was encouraging because it enabled her to meet other women, and “hear their stories and [see that] so many of them didn’t have an environmental science degree […] and found ways to incorporate their love for nature into what they’re doing professionally.”
The Hampton High School greenhouse is anticipated to open its doors this summer. We are excited to see the how the Greenhouse will grow throughout its first year, and the continuous growth that will be part of its many years to come.
Nature Canada would like to thank the Women for Nature members for generously supporting this mentorship pilot.