Visiting the town’s local high school, I witnessed tremendous potential for youth action. Over the last six years, teachers and students have started environmental initiatives that are unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else in Canada.

SSS Youth Action is an active group of dedicated students and teachers, Mr. Hubert, Mr. Rath, and Mrs. Cunningham. Together this group has tackled social justice and environmental issues including the initiation of a compost system, a bicycle powered charge station for cell phones and to make smoothies, microgreens grown for snacks in classrooms, the invention of a rocket retort to convert the woodshop’s sawdust into biochar, a Vegucation website, a 4000 sq ft garden, and the construction of a biomeiller and geodesic dome for year round growing.  SSS Youth Action has won provincial and national awards (BC Green Games and Staples Ecovator Contest) for their efforts.  Smithers Secondary students have benefited greatly by being involved with these eco-innovations.

The mastermind behind these inventions is teacher Rick Hubert, who is a climate change leader.

He’s made machinery and equipment at his metal shop to create a more energy efficient and sustainable Smithers. Hubert has been recognized with the Prime Minister’s Award for teaching excellence.

To help his wife fight cancer, he started looking for ​more nutritious and better sourced agricultural food.

This led to the creation of the first biomeiller and geodesic dome in the region.  Hubert has put much of his own time into these projects, and much has been funded by grants he applied for. At one point, part of his teaching load was assigned to working on green initiatives and running the geodesic dome with students, but over the past years, the school has faced a large decline in population and as a result, a decrease in budget.  Hubert’s teaching schedule no longer allows time for a “green block” so it’s become impossible for him to keep things running.  The geodesic dome hasn’t been operating for the past two years.

Recently, there’s been talk of scrapping the geodesic dome altogether. It’s a hard situation for everyone at Smithers Secondary. Teachers acknowledge that the budget decline is a very real and serious problem; in equal measure, they see the enormous educational benefits of such climate innovations for students.

We see it too.

This is why we do this tour. We want to highlight climate solutions that educators and students are building in high schools across Canada.

Smithers, you inspire us – and the rest of Canada – with your steps towards real climate action. We are rooting for you, and the return of the biodome to Smithers Secondary.