Amanda Evans is originally from Toronto but came out to Victoria in 2003 to attend the University of Victoria. In 2012, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and Geography, and a Diploma in Restoration of Natural Systems.
During that time her love affair with Victoria developed into a deep commitment to causes that help save and restore the local natural environment.
In 2014 she was given the job of creating the Greater Victoria Green Team (GVGT) modelled after the Lower Mainland Green Team. She has built the GVGT into the largest regional environmental volunteer group, and won both the Vancity Social Innovation Award and Volunteer Victoria Volunteer Engagement Award. In the past 12 months she has coordinated 67 volunteer activities and engaged 1,433 volunteers. The GVGT engages the community in hands-on environmental education and ecological restoration activities including removing invasive plants, planting native species and cleaning up shorelines. “It’s where I can truly practice what I am most passionate about: coming together and helping inspire and empower others to help protect and restore the earth,” she says.
Evans credits the Continuing Studies diploma program with giving her the foundation for a career based in ecological restoration and community engagement. “I loved the experiential learning where about 40 per cent or more of a course took place either outdoors or experiencing actual projects. The field trips to restoration sites were invaluable as we got to learn directly from different experts leading some amazing projects. It was great to make connections with some of these experts during the course, and some of these connections led to developing more long-term work relationships that benefit my current work situation.”
It’s always refreshing and inspiring to meet a true idealist who has the energy and commitment to making a difference. Evans shows no sign of flagging in her energy to learn and do more.
“The thing I love about Victoria is the community involvement in making this city great. Without people taking action, creating community projects and contributing their time and passion, this city would be different,” she says.
Evans points out that there is support at the municipal level for community projects. For instance, Lyda Salatian (who founded Green Teams of Canada) wanted to do more for her community and started the Lower Mainland Green Team on Meet-up.com in 2011. By 2013, this idea had led to the creation of a national charity that has become the largest environmental volunteer program in BC. “Thanks to Lyda, the GVGT was created and has helped me live my dream,” adds Evans. “Starting where we live in our own communities, helping the environment down the street from your home and seeing the change we can make through simple actions, it is amazing to see the impact we have on the Earth.“
Next on the list for Evans is additional course work through Continuing Studies to help broaden her knowledge about native plants and also leadership. Stay tuned—we’re sure to hear more about Amanda Evans in the future.
This article was first published in the Fall 2016 Calendar.