School enviro heroes ready for more

A group of schoolchildren was named environmental heroes in the Rhodes University Environmental Awards in Grahamstown recently.

They were one of two inspirational environmental groups commended for their efforts at the 2014 Environmental Awards.

The 2014 Environmental Award in the Makana Community Category was awarded to Nombulelo and Mary Waters Interact Clubs. Delivering the citation for this award was SRC Environmental Councillor, Keelen Snyders.

“This group, comprised of school children aged between 12 and 18 years, has made a tangible, significant contribution to the ecological health of Grahamstown environments by the sustained removal of invasive alien plants,” said Snyders.

“As interact clubs, formed under the auspices of Rotary Club of Grahamstown Sunset, they undertake projects to benefit their communities, thus instilling in their members and appreciation for the ideal of selfless community service.”

One of the three Interact winners, Nomathamsanqa Zono, from Mary Waters High School, expressed her excitement about their achievement.

“I am glad that we were able to meet the criteria for such a prestigious award.”

She added, “I’ll have you know that we’ll continue doing this – this is an onward project for us."

Thabang Stoffel, a Nombulelo High School pupil, expressed thanks to Rotarians Don Hendry, Janet and Norman Brown and Este Coetzee “for the hard work they have done for us to win this award”.

The 2014 Environmental Award in the Rhodes University Department/institute category was awarded to The Biological Control Research Group Mass rearing Programme (BCRG). Dr Joanna Dames, Convenor of the Environmental Awards Working Group, delivered the citation.

“This Rhodes University unit has established an impressive mass-rearing facility in order to meet the demand for biological control agents – host-specific natural enemies which are used to control water weeds,” said Dames.

She said thanks to this unit, close to a million control agents had been released over the past six years to control common water weeds in South Africa. This, she said, had helped to restore aquatic ecosystem services, increase the supply of water and improve water quality.

Professor Martin Hill, of the biological control programme in the Department of Zoology and Entomology, said, “We’ve taken fundamental science; we’ve worked out how to implement it for the betterment of the environment, and we’ve worked out how to use the community to assist us with that.”

Both projects were commended for meeting the criteria of collaborative and cohesive efforts which strengthen and build community relationships; leading by example; evidence that the activities have been in place for 18 months or longer; continuity of the activities; promoting environmental awareness and, last, initiating environmentally sound practices.

Guest speaker Dr Catherine Luyt, who developed a ground-breaking modification to a water-testing kit now used by water-monitoring project MobiSam, addressed the award-winners and audience. The kit detects contaminants such as faecal bacteria.

Luyt said the awards were a time to inspire other people to take what they have done and go forward with it, or to find a new project.

“It is time for us each to play our part in the environment – every bit helps.”

In closing Luyt spoke of continuity, saying, “One must always remember, it’s great to design a project; it’s even better when you get it to carry on going.”

We need to look at “our bright young minds” who have the ability to develop affordable technology to be used in water sanitation, said Luyt.

Adapting JF Kennedy’s statement, Luyt ended in saying, “Let’s not ask what our environment and government can do for us; but what we can do to help them.

“Our environment needs you.”

Professor Hugo Nel, Chair of the Environmental Committee at Rhodes University, opened the ceremony held at the Eden Grove Concourse. Presenting the awards was the Rhodes University acting Vice Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela.

Article by Nicola Poulos
Article Source: Grocott's Mail

Source:  Grocott's Mail

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