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Children gather for Seeds of Hope awards
This week Guardian Media Ltd’s Cleaning up the Mess environmental series presents a two-part guest series column by Marlon Grant, team leader of sustainability at Atlantic, who tells us about Seeds of Hope, the annual environmental and agriculture awareness programme sponsored by Atlantic.
It probably goes without saying that 500 primary schoolchildren laughing and talking in the auditorium of the Point Fortin Town Hall can be anything but quiet. It was a rainy morning in early February, and the auditorium was chilly and packed with children. Their excitement was contagious.
They stood or sat in groups, chattering away. I strolled through the auditorium, making my way through the throng. The students came from 31 4H clubs from St Patrick West, Victoria and Tobago. They were at the town hall to receive awards for their clubs’ participation in 2011 in Seeds of Hope, the annual environmental and agriculture awareness programme sponsored by Atlantic.
To put it mildly, these children were happy. For a moment, though, it was as if I had stepped into the future. Young faces were all around me, boys and girls all excited about their contribution to the environment of their respective communities. But it was as if I was also seeing them many years hence, when they had grown up and become adults. In that moment, though to my eyes they were no longer children, and their future selves were no less persuaded that their efforts mattered.
They were no less convinced that their activity in the 4H movement was the most important thing they were doing. And they were no less optimistic that they could make a difference.
Making a difference
The truth is that the children who participate in Seeds of Hope are making a difference. Back in 2007, in those early days when Atlantic conceptualised the Seeds of Hope programme, our pet name for the programme was the “Greening of Point Fortin.” We quite literally wanted to make our home community green with plants and trees, especially fruit trees.
We saw it as part of our commitment to help preserve and nurture the environment in Point Fortin, the community where our production facility is located. (Atlantic produces liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is natural gas frozen into liquid form so that it may be shipped overseas on special tankers.
Once exported to such countries as Spain, the UK and Japan, LNG is converted back into gaseous form and used to provide electricity, or to heat homes and commercial buildings.) Our original objective with Seeds of Hope was to create an annual voluntary initiative all across Point Fortin, recruiting schools and families to collect and plant seeds all over the borough. Over time, those seeds would grow into trees, and those trees would help to make the community even more beautiful.
But more importantly, this would help to provide sustainable environmental benefits for Point Fortin. Sustainability is very important to Atlantic. As producers of LNG, we are conscious that the natural gas that we use in our process is finite. We believe therefore that we have a responsibility to ensure that we help to create future opportunities from present-day use of natural gas.
This is what we mean by sustainability. Sustainability becomes even more relevant when those opportunities that we create target and benefit future generations—that is, our children. To help build sustainability in Point Fortin and wherever we can in T&T, Atlantic partners with NGOs. NGOs have experience in designing, managing and operating initiatives that target the next generation. For Seeds of Hope, Atlantic partnered with the St Patrick West 4H Voluntary Leaders Council and the Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs.
With the help of these partners, Seeds of Hope has grown (pun unintended) into a much fuller programme with even more scope and structure. There has been measurable progress, and the children are doing far more than just collecting and planting seeds.
To be continued next week.
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