Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia
“In the fall of 2015, I learned what a straight pipe was and I was very upset!” These first words on the LaHave River: Stella’s Science Project web page recount the beginning of a remarkably successful campaign launched by young Stella Bowles. Since this 13-year-old Nova Scotian discovered that raw sewage was flowing directly into the river she lived on, she has worked to collect and analyze samples, worked in university labs proving the river water is dangerous to humans, built a Facebook campaign, and galvanized three levels of government. She met with the mayor, the local MLA, the MP and, last summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The result of her hard work (and that of a small group of committed supporters and mentors around her) is a six-year, $17-million public and private program, starting this summer, to stop people from flushing their toilets directly into the water and clean up the river. In addition to her work conducting multi-site water quality tests in the LaHave River, actively lobbying for the immediate cleanup of the river and meeting with politicians at all three levels of government, she loves playing with her dalmatian Zappa, swimming (though not yet in the LaHave River) and playing hockey.
IN HER OWN WORDS
- “This was supposed to be a little science project, and it quickly got so much bigger. I think that’s partly because adults are kind of ashamed that it took a kid to tell them the river is not safe. I have visited everything from primary school to elderly groups. And everybody listens."
- “Anyone can make a difference if they want to. The first advice I give when asked is, don’t get discouraged. And use social media (with your mum’s okay). You can get your message out there way beyond just your friends and community. I had a lot of support from a lot of people but mostly my mum, Andrea Conrad, and my dad, Lender Bowles, and our neighbour, Dr. Maxwell, a retired emergency doctor who was a science mentor for me. With their help, we really are making a difference!”
Visit Stella’s Facebook page, LaHave River: Stella’s Science Project