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Student Volunteer Army co-founder recognised for greening the rebuild of Christchurch.

Submitted by on September 23, 2013 – 7:06 am

jason pembertonStudent Volunteer Army co-founder recognised for selfless volunteer work

September 22, 2013

University of Canterbury (UC) Student Volunteer Army Foundation general manager Jason Pemberton has been recognised for his selfless volunteer work.

Pemberton, an alumnus with science and commerce degrees, organised and implemented 10 events in Christchurch’s residential red zone reclamation project.

Through his efforts, Pemberton and more than 400 UC students and visiting US study abroad students, salvaged material to the estimated value of $50,000.

The material was then recycled into Gap Filler projects, Greening the Rubble sites and the new Volunteer Army Foundation and Life in Vacant Spaces sub-consent offices.

Pemberton has just received the UC Sustainability Office’s top annual award for his efforts in helping green the rebuild of Christchurch.

UC’s sustainability advocate Dr Matt Morris says the awards showcase amazing work around sustainability in the community.

The red zone reclamation project involved Pemberton securing access through the Christchurch Earthquake Authority (CERA), which was no small achievement in itself.

Pemberton was permitted to enter uninhabited, red-zoned properties in the Burwood area of Christchurch and then organise groups of students to salvage safely accessible materials such as fence timber, corrugated iron from sheds, paving stones and re-plantable vegetation.

All the material would otherwise have been landfilled but was instead put to recycling use in projects such as those organised by Gapfiller and Greening the Rubble.

“His deftly-executed initiative was an important time for a large number of students and will have left them with an enduring sense of achievement and meaningful participation at an unprecedented moment in Christchurch’s history,’’ Dr Morris says.

After the February 2011 earthquake Sam Johnson and Pemberton, co-founders of the Student Volunteer Army, helped organise Japanese university students develop a similar volunteer programme.

Pemberton and fellow SVA team member Jackson Rowland also helped the clean-up in Belle Harbour, New York, following Hurricane Sandy in October last year.

Award judges were Tony Moore, Principle Sustainability Advisor for the Christchurch City Council; Chrissie Williams, Principal Strategy Advisor at Environment Canterbury; Sally Airey, Gap Filler Education and Outreach; and Bjorn Arndt, Sustainability and Postgraduate representative at the UCSA.

For further information contact Dr Matt Morris, Sustainability Office, on 0210386638 or UC media consultant Kip Brook on 0275 030168.

Photos: Jason Pemberton

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