Ecosystem Management graduate stands up against plastic pollution

Rochelle Byrne, Fleming Ecosystem Management Technology graduate (Class of 2012), is proud to stand up for what she believes in. To raise awareness of plastic pollution, Rochelle stand-up paddleboarded 430km across Lake Ontario.

“I wanted to do this stand-up paddle to raise awareness of plastic pollution because, after doing hundreds of litter clean-ups along the shores of Lake Ontario, I found that plastic was the most common thing being found,” said Rochelle. “Some of it is coming from unexpected sources and a lot of it is completely preventable.”

Rochelle is the founder of A Greener Future, a non-profit organization that promotes environmental preservation through organized litter cleanups, educational programs and events. This includes the Love Your Lake series, comprising 100 organized litter cleanups along Lake Ontario. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, A Greener Future was not able to host this event series in 2020.

Still committed to raising awareness about pollution in Lake Ontario, Rochelle decided to use her stand-up paddleboard and document her journey on social media to help educate others.

“I saw raw sewage in the lake, there were some smelly areas and dead fish,” said Rochelle, who spent 92 hours stand-up paddleboarding. “I’ll be sharing the full paddling journey through my personal Instagram (@rochellebyrneagf) over the coming months.”

While Rochelle always cared about nature and animals, it wasn’t until her experience at Fleming’s School of Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences that she developed a passion for the environment.

“I took Fleming’s Ecosystem Management program and that’s where I became aware of the impact I have on the environment. Before attending classes at Frost (Fleming’s Lindsay campus), I really didn’t know the impact I had,” Rochelle explains. “That was really a starting point for me on protecting the environment. It also gave me the opportunity to network and meet like-minded people.”

Rochelle is a proud Fleming College graduate and welcomes any like-minded people to volunteer at A Greener Future. To apply to volunteer, please visit A Greener Future’s website.