At Williams Lake Secondary School, the tireless work of three high school friends has helped cement the roots of the Lake City Secondary Horticultural Club.
Kaitlin Green, Tatiana Hill and Tannis Thompson all joined the horticultural club, otherwise known as the LCSS Grow Operators, in Grade 10 along with another friend who has since left the club, and have worked consistently hard to make it successful for the last three years. Now in Grade 12, the girls are leaving behind a visible legacy at their school, the construction of two greenhouses for their club.
Green is a modest student currently taking physics, precalculus, biology and art at LCSS. In her spare time, she likes hunting and gardening at the small hobby farm she calls home. She’ll be attending the University of Northern British Columbia next year for the Wildlife and Fisheries program.
“Along with growing plants (in the club) we also raise praying mantises to deal with aphids and stuff. It’s pretty fun,” Green said.
For her part, Hill enjoys outdoor activities like horseback riding and quadding and will also be attending UNBC for a Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in biology. Hill said that they all like gardening and thought it’d be a cool club to join when they first came to LCSS.
Hill said that the two new growing racks and the two new greenhouses were funded, in part, thanks to a business plan she planned with Green and Thompson and presented before Community Futures
Thompson also intends to attend UNBC for a Bachelor of Science and said the presentation was a little scary because they didn’t quite know what they were doing at the time. However, she said they learned from it and it helped them develop their interpersonal skills.
“(The greenhouses) gives us a way to be remembered throughout the school, we don’t just leave and not make an impact, so (this) way people (will) look back and go, oh cool, these people built this,” Thompson said.
All of them agreed it was nice to leave the club better then they found it and hopes it continues to flourish and grow after they leave.
Their teacher and the founder of the club, Jennifer Anderson, said the girls are humble, as their actions and words directly led to the construction of these two greenhouses and other quality of life improvements to the club. Prior to this, the math and science teacher had been using her own greenhouse to store and acclimatize the plants the club grew come spring. Anderson originally started a growing club in 2013, as a component of a science class, for students who are not heavily involved in academics or sports but have an interest in horticulture.
“It provides opportunities for the kids outside of high school that they may not have thought of before. It’s great to raise funds for some of the other programs transportation fees, like the soccer team and the dance club we’ve helped out in the past,” Anderson said.
The result of these two greenhouses will be significant for the club’s future, even as Green, Hill and Thompson leave the school this year for post-secondary Anderson said. They will allow future generations of Horticulture Club members the ability to grow more produce for events like Seedy Saturday, will make the club more visible to the general student body and allow Anderson to provide a “perpetual scholarship program” for former graduated members of the club.
She describes the girls as “super responsible” when they prepared and proposed their plan to the City of Williams Lake to secure grants through Community Futures’ Seeding Start-Ups. With $1,500 of grant money, around $2,500 from previous Seedy Saturdays and around $1,000 worth of community donations over the last few years, Anderson and the girls were able to make the greenhouses happen.
Green, Hill and Thompson have all been deeply committed to the club, Anderson said, choosing to come in and tend to the plants after class, after school and even coming in on weekends. They’ve developed a “really strong skill set” to independently grow as adults, Anderson said and believes they could deal with any problems that might come up in a given year.
“I think it’s important for everyone to learn how to grow. We live in such an urban society now that we can just go to the grocery store (but) it’s a way better product if you can grow it yourself, you can be stewards of the environment and do your growing in a responsible manner, without chemicals,” Anderson said. “The time commitment and responsibility are a secondary skill you have to have because plants can’t wait for water.”
The scholarship program, however, is the true legacy the girls are leaving behind in Anderson’s opinion. If the club is able to raise at least $1,500 a year from here on out she’ll be able to offer a minimum of three scholarships for $500 each to outgoing members.
“I’m super proud of them, I think they’ve done a really good job sticking with it from Grade 10, 11 and 12. They’re setting a really good example for the new members because they are the ones who have to teach the new girls how to do the planting and how to do the tending … the other girls see the commitment needed to make sure this club runs and flourishes,” Anderson said.
The Williams Lake Horticultural Club will be selling the fruits of their labour at Seedy Saturday on Saturday, May 4 in the parking lot beside Kiwanis Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.