Student of the Month Yvan Tang, centre, receives his certificate from Duncan Rotary Club president Gregg Perry, left, and Student of the Month program coordinator Kim Barnard. In the back row are Environmental Stewardship teachers John Lofto and Joanna VeraFlores. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Student of the Month Yvan Tang, centre, receives his certificate from Duncan Rotary Club president Gregg Perry, left, and Student of the Month program coordinator Kim Barnard. In the back row are Environmental Stewardship teachers John Lofto and Joanna VeraFlores. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan Secondary student earns Rotary Student of the Month award

Yvan Tang’s insight into environmental issues impressed teachers

“How do you take a video of a dissection and make it that when you look at a river, you know you need to take care of it?”

This question, posed by Cowichan Secondary School teacher John Lofto last week, was essentially rhetorical, as it had already been answered by Yvan Tang, whose efforts in the school’s Environmental Stewardship program earned Student of the Month honours for November from the Rotary Club of Duncan.

For his independent stewardship project, Tang sourced his own salmon, dissected it and made a mini-documentary about the dissection and the roles of various salmon body parts.

“This video showed remarkable insight on the deep question of why humans should care about creatures and the environment,” Lofto explained.

Created by Lofto and co-teacher Joanna VeraFlores, the Environmental Stewardship program is a new one at Cowichan Secondary this year. It combines five core courses — Environmental Science 11 (everyone needs a Grade 11 science to graduate), Human Geography 12, English 11 or 12, Tourism, and Careers — into one half-year program. Enrolled students spend full days in the program, which started in the first quarter of the school year and will resume for the final quarter.

Studies in the fall portion of the program focused on the relationship between salmon and people, and Tang excelled in every aspect the class explored, from poetry to genetics.

The Environmental Stewardship program has worked closely — although socially distanced — with a variety of organizations and community members, including the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, the Cowichan Stewardship Roundtable and Cowichan Green Community. That was a big part of what attracted Tang to the program.

“One of the teachers said we would be collaborating with the community, and I wanted to see what’s out there and what opportunities there are for myself,” he said. “I like working to make the environment a better place by collaborating with the community.”

The Grade 11 student received $100 from the Rotary Club, as well as a certificate sponsored by PrintCraft. He pledged to put the money toward further efforts similar to those that earned him the award.

“It’s a really big thing,” he said. “I’ve certainly never received any grants for my physical work. I’m very excited for this opportunity.”

Tang isn’t sure if he wants to to pursue anything related to environmental stewardship as a vocation — “maybe a side career” he said — but taking part in the program is beneficial either way.

“I think this gives me a lot of opportunities,” he said.

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