Kale Black goes from a high school co-op placement to leadership of the BurlingtonGreen Youth Network.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 19, 2012  It is often the youth of the community that see the obvious way of doing something well before their elders.  That the environment is in danger and needs help is so obvious to them that they ask few questions.  While there are still people in positions of public responsibility who suggest global warming isn’t caused by the human beings on this planet – the young people know better and treat this earth of ours differently.

The BurlingtonGreen Youth Network is a significant part of the front line that takes that extra step to protect, nurture and grow the environment in a positive way.  Are all youth environmentalists – no,  but those that are impact their peers and over time change takes place.

Susan Fraser, BurlingtonGreen Director, second from the right, directs members of the Youth Network on the tree planting task.

Last year more than 5,000 Burlingtonians took part in the in the Clean Up Green Up event sponsored by BurlingtonGreen.  One of the young people who was “there” when BurlingtonGreen was formed is now its Youth coordinator and will lead a group of about 20 young people, who will be out on a stretch of road beside LaSalle Park,  helping people plant 300 trees.

Kale Black, a young man with two jobs – one as a manager of a fast food chain that puts too much salt on the food we eat (where you can bet he is advocating for a change in the amount of sodium used) and is also the BurlingtonGreen youth coordinator.  He was an Aldershot High school student doing a make-up year and looking for a co-op placement and thought the newly formed BurlingtonGreen would be a cool place to spend some time.

His high school had an Eco Club, as do all of the Burlington high schools, and he wanted to see them grow so that he could meet people who thought like him.

The clubs had film nights and they would take on small projects; but the creation of the Youth Network within BurlingtonGreen made it possible for all the environmentally concerned youth to come together.

Kale Black on the left listens while Youth Network den Mother Susan Fraser explains where trees are going to be planted on Earth Day

“I wanted to be with people that thought like me”, explains Black.  Where does it go from here?   These young people know they are a part of a growing movement – one that now has a day of the year that everyone is aware of – Earth Day.  That’s not a small achievement. Black toils away at making this earth a better place for the rest of us and for those that will follow him.  This stuff doesn’t just happen – it is when people like Black make the phone calls and cajole the young people to come out and show people how to plant trees.  His Saturday morning crowd this weekend will be on site close to 8 am – and these are teenagers.

Susan Fraser, a BurlingtonGreen Director and current Secretary to the organization, as well as a nominee for the Environmental leadership award this year, is sort of the den Mother to the Youth.  She trucks them around in her vehicle, carries the supplies they need and serves as the responsible adult.

These are the kids that are going to save us from ourselves.  We are fortunate to have so many of them.

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