Companies make major donations to school project

Clayton Hunt
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Cooke and Northern Harvest helping with Green and Fit program

Damon Woodland, representing Cooke Aquaculture Inc. and Jennifer Caines, an official with Northern Harvest Sea farms were at St. Joseph’s Elementary on December 7 to donate $5,000 from each company to the school’s Green and Fit program which will get underway in 2012. Mr. Woodland and Ms. Caines presented their donations to Lauren Carter and Heather Blackmore. Ms. Blackmore and Ms. Carter are the president and vice-president of the school’s student council respectively. Doreen Vallis, (l) the chair of St. Joseph’s School council was also at the presentation as was the school’s principal, Mr. Terry Baker.

Terry Baker, the principal of St. Joseph’s Elementary in Harbour Breton, said he was pleasantly surprised recently when he learned that the two major aquaculture companies operating in the community have agreed to donate $5,000 each to the school’s Green and Fit project.

Baker said that each year the St. Joseph’s School Council works hard to be proactive and sets at least one goal for the students each school year. In 2010-2011, the council decided to initiate a three-year fundraising campaign to develop a Green and Fit space for the school.

He said, “The initiative ties in with our school’s healthy eating and active lifestyle program as we’ve been doing this for the past several school years.

“However, we felt that we would build a Green and Fit space for the students so that we could use the outdoors to enhance a number of curriculum objectives. Having students play ball, hockey, basketball or soccer outdoors on a field, for example, could enhance our gym classes.

“In addition, the Green and Fit space could be used to enhance science curriculum objectives as students could plant flowers in the spring in learning about germination, fertilization and the growth of seeds. Students could also learn and appreciate biodiversity in the space, which will include an outdoor classroom when completed.

The space will also include a walking trail which students can use to learn about fitness, recreation and the environment.”

Baker said that the school started raising funds for the space last year during the school’s spring concert.

“We are hoping to raise $10,000 a year for the next three years,” Baker said. “However, with this very much appreciated donation from Cooke and Northern Harvest Sea Farms we may meet our goal much sooner than we expected.”

Baker said that the project has the green light from the Nova Central School Board and work on the project should begin in the spring of 2012.

Doreen Vallis, the chair of the St. Joseph’s School Council said, “These donations by Cooke Aquaculture and Northern Harvest Sea farms is wonderful news. The money will go a long ways in helping us see this project through to fruition. Hopefully, this will enable us to start working on the project in the spring of 2012.

“On behalf of the council, the teachers and support staff at St. Joseph’s and all the students, I would like to sincerely thank both companies for their generous support.”

Companies Respond

Jennifer Woodland is a Cooke employee in Harbour Breton; She is also president of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association and a parent representative on St. Joseph’s School Council.

Woodland said, “As a parent representative on the school’s council, I realize that this project is very important for the students. The Coast of Bays has the highest incidence of diabetes in Newfoundland and Labrador; our obesity rates are high, so it’s important that we teach our children the importance of health eating and healthy lifestyles. This is the generation we have to reach to reverse those nasty trends in our health.

“As a company employee, I know that Cooke promotes healthy eating through our fish products, and we also want to give back to the communities in which we operate.

“So, this is a great project that fits right into Cooke’s mission of promoting healthy lifestyles. “

Jennifer Caines, an official with Northern Harvest Sea Farms said that her company also agreed to become involved with the project as it promotes the health of our youth.

Caines said, “We have employees in Harbour Breton who have children and/or grandchildren at St. Joseph’s. Our youth are our future, and it’s very important that we start to reverse some of the recent health trends in this part of the province.

“This project can help start, and keep, our children on their way to healthier eating habits and healthier lifestyle, so, yes, we are proud to partner with St. Josephs’ in this very worthwhile project.

“Northern Harvest considers healthy living very important for everyone, especially our children, as they are indeed our future.  And that healthy living includes being fit and active in green spaces in and around our schools - taking care of both our bodies and our environment.


Organizations: Nova Central School Board, Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association

Geographic location: Harbour Breton, Bays, Newfoundland and Labrador

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