Looking for ways to get help your community? Join the Greater Victoria Green Team!
The first Green Team (Lower Mainland Green Team) was originally formed in February 2011. By February 2012, the environmental volunteer group grew to 800 volunteers and had already removed 10,000 pounds of invasive plants and planted 465 native plants and trees.
In 2014, the Lower Mainland Green Team became a program of Green Teams Canada, and the Greater Victoria Green Team (GVGT) was formed.
“One aspect that makes our program unique is our focus on people,” says Amanda Evans, Program Manager of the GVGT. “The more involved in the community people are the more they feel like they belong. We provide them with opportunities to gain a sense of belonging and empower them to make a tangible impact on their local green spaces. We also believe that if you connect people to nature, they are more likely to fight for it and act in environmentally responsible ways in their every day lives.”
The GVGT organizes 60 volunteer events for approximately 1500 volunteers annually. Some events include removing litter from shorelines, building and maintaining trails, removing invasive plant species, and planting native species. “On average we spend 45 hours of our time behind the scenes to run a successful Green Team activity. To get 15 – 20 volunteers to attend each of our 60 activities is a fun challenge!” says Evans.
One of the reasons the GVGT is unique is their focus on engaging with a broad age-range of volunteers: 12-45. “We encourage those who have never done anything like this before to try it out, and set up all of our activities to be inclusive no matter age, experience levels, and abilities,” says Evans. “Our youngest participant was a few weeks old and came with her Mom!”
Another way the GVGT engages with the community is by partnering with local schools. Their upcoming event will have the team working with students from Dunsmuir Middle School to remove invasive plants from Pit House Park. So far, 100 students are expected to participate, but the event had so many volunteers that Evans has decided to organize another day for more volunteers.
The GVGT collaborates with over 50 other groups in the CRD. “We collaborate with municipal, provincial, and federal parks, and collaborate with as many stewardship groups as we can,” says Evans. “Recently, we have become to create official partnerships with some key collaborators and actually write grants together and jointly fundraise. A few of these key partnerships include the Land Conservancy, Habitat Acquisition Trust, Town of View Royal, District of North Saanich and Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society. These groups and municipalities have truly recognized the positive contributions that our volunteer program has made in their projects and on the sites they manage and in turn on their organizations.”
Want to get involved? Check out https://www.meetup.com/Greater-Victoria-Green-Team/ to view and register for GVGT events. You can also donate to their April fundraiser.
The GVGT is striving to raise $5,000 by the end of April to help them organize their core activities and expand their team. “This is our very first ‘ask’ of the wide community,” says Evans. “Since we started in August 2014 in Greater Victoria, we have relied on funding from grants from foundations like Victoria Foundation, Gosling foundation, Sitka Foundation, LUSH Foundation, and other funders like Newman’s Own, Home Depot, and many others. In order to ensure that our program is here in the future and continues to grow, we are working to diversify our funding.”
The team has almost reached the halfway point of their fundraising goals. “I am completely over the moon with the response from our community,” says Evans. “It is very heartening to know how much we mean to people and that they are throwing their support behind us. Some of the donors are our volunteers who already do so so much. My heart feels very full knowing that there are many committed people to this cause.”
Learn more about the Greater Victoria Green Team and register for events at https://www.greenteamscanada.ca/about/us/ or https://www.meetup.com/Greater-Victoria-Green-Team/