About Langara Students
Our Soil Sales are great fund-raisers — but before anybody can buy the soil, somebody has to pick up a shovel and fill the bags. Since 2017, some Langara College student volunteers have made that their specialty. They’re taking part in the College’s VOLT (“unit of energy”) Volunteer Program, which connects students with volunteer opportunities on and off campus.
“The VanDusen is a good fit for us,” says staff coordinator Maggie Stewart. “It supports our overall objectives — to build community engagement, social awareness and the students’ own development. More specifically,” she adds, “it gives us an outdoor activity with a fitness component, it teaches the importance of botanical gardens, and the volunteers can see, in all those bags, the impact of their work for a good cause.”
A fitness component? Oh yes. The students get some training at the College, and more once they arrive at the Garden. “It’s hard work!” says Patricia Figuaira, a Brazilian environmental studies student who participated for the first time last fall. “So it’s also a good workout.” Clauzi Guerini, also Brazilian and doing a post-grad diploma in Business Administration, nods in agreement. “They taught everyone how to use the shovel, how to lift the bags, and they kept an eye on us while we worked. They took good care of us.”
Clauzi and Patricia had each already visited the Garden for sheer personal pleasure, so volunteering there through VOLT was an easy decision. “I love nature!” says environmentalist Patricia. “It’s a chance to be part of something bigger than I am, and to support a place that I like,” says Clauzi.
Bag by bag, it all adds up. As of spring 2017, a total of 34 Langara students have helped at three Sales, filling 900 bags with soil during their collective 154 hours of community service.
“The great thing I’ve learned,” says Clauzi, “is that even though I’m working so hard in my studies, I really can make time for this.”
Written by Penny Williams, Volunteer Writer