FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — NEAT’s education coordinator, Susan McGarvey, announced her departure from the organization following Executive Director Karen Mason-Bennett’s exit at the end of September.

“You just get to the point where it’s time for you to move to the next thing,” McGarvey said.

“I’ve really missed being in a classroom. And I knew that the school district was looking for teachers this year.”

McGarvey says her degree is in education, and she loves connecting with kids.

She will teach at Baldonnel Elementary School, beginning on September 26th.

McGarvey started at NEAT in 2014 as an eco advisor before moving into the education coordinator position.

“[I] loved everything about teaching about the environment, using art to do that sometimes, and finding ways to connect kids with nature,” she said.

During her time at NEAT, she brought many projects teaching kids about different aspects of the world around them to fruition.

One of these is called Energy Explorers, where NEAT brought together leaders in the energy field from all sectors.

“We had companies like Pembina and BC Hydro represented there, but we also had Peace Energy Co-op there, showing alternative energies,” McGarvey explained.

“We had somebody who was doing geothermal. Canadian Geographic was there with their energy map.”

She says this map is “half a gym size map that you can walk on” that shows all the different energy types Canada offers.

She calls this “kind of unusual” for kids in the area.

“We talk about oil and gas and we don’t really talk about alternative energies like geothermal, solar, wind power,” McGarvey said.

“So it was kind of nice to have all those things in one spot.”

Last year, NEAT said the energy event was done virtually and expanded to a larger audience.

“We actually opened it up to the Yukon. We opened it up to Nunavut. We opened it up to Alberta,” she said.

“We had schools from all over coming and attending that conference.”

Energy Explorers came into existence after NEAT received funding and was asked “Hey, can you do something with energy?’

NEAT also partnered with and presented to Pacific Northern Gas (PNG).

“They actually wanted us to talk about conservation and safety, which is very important to us, especially conservation,” she said.

McGarvey says PNG is partnered with Bear Mountain Wind Park, and this turned into the Energy Leaders program.

McGarvey also facilitated some of the “mommy and me” and “daddy and me” programs to connect kids and parents with nature.

“We did a lot of things for parents to learn tricks that they can do at home that still have kids connecting to nature,” she said.

Another program she helped with is the popular summer program, Wildlings.

McGarvey would like to extend a “huge” thank you to the community for the support, for coming to the events, and for “buying into all my crazy ideas.”

“Especially every summer, trusting their kids with us in the forest,” she said.

“For all the wild leaders over the last five years and all of the Wildlings and the wild families, just a huge thank you for embracing this really crazy concept of ‘hey, we’re gonna give all these sharp objects to these kids, and we’re gone let them tell us what they want to do.”

She says it has become a “beautiful program” and that it was life-changing for some kids.

“I am so proud of all of my leaders who made it happen for all of the kids,” she said.

“I can’t wait to see them back in the forest next summer.”

Mason-Bennett also wrote a letter to McGarvey, thanking her for all she assisted with and wishing her the best.

Avatar photo

Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.