Steven Schultz, an educator at Lacombe Composite High School recently was named the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year after years of serving his community.
“It is an honour, it is humbling and it is a testimony to the environment we have here in Lacombe,” Schultz said.
Schultz has helped pioneer several robotics programs in Central Alberta along with several green initiatives at LCHS, along with his students, that has led to the school recently being named Canada’s Greenest School
“If there wasn’t an environment where these innovative projects could happen or if there wasn’t students that have stepped up and committed – I wouldn’t be winning this award,” he said.
Schultz believes it is the obligation of everyone to share their passions with the world.
“I am a very strong believer that all of us are given great things and if we are only receivers, then our society and culture will fall apart,” he said. “I firmly believe we have an obligation to give back and play it forward.”
Part of what drives Schultz is the need to give back to people the way that others have to him.
“There is lots of of individuals in my life from this community and other people in places where I have lived that believed in me. This award is a tribute to those people investing in my life,” he said.
Schultz was quick to credit others for the success of his students, including the community of Lacombe which has invested sponsorships, expertise, advice and invaluable resources that has allowed LCHS to install solar panels, create a greenhouse, urban garden and most recently introduce a beekeeping program.
“It takes a community to raise a child and to have the community understand that I am trying to instill life skills that will go with each of these students for their whole lives, it is important to me and extremely valuable to these kids,” he said.
The success of the green projects, which have been developed through the schools Ecovision Club, has led to students being able to monetize their results.
“We have endeavoured into trying to teach students business skills. Along with that has come the need to get expertise. Burman University for example has sent professors who have come and given us business supports,” Schultz said, adding that Cilantro and Chive also stepped up to purchase produce from the school.
“After they took that risk, other people have taken note and now we have our honey in Healthfitters, we have our honey being promoted at Head Hunters and Sweet Capone’s is considering purchasing our honey for coffee and tea,” he said.
“If these businesses didn’t believe in my students, they wouldn’t allow our products to be on their shelves or stores. We would only have artificial businesses to promote to the kids.”
Schultz also thanked Home Hardware and Peavey Mart who have made it easier to purchase supplies through discounts.
“If you go to our website, wwe.lchsecovision.weebly.com, you will see a list of all our sponsors. There is 60-70 sponsors now and this is a thank you to them for believing in us and believing in me,” he said.
The thing that inspires Schultz to carry on is the gift of being able to see young people go from not believing in themselves to being able take risks and being confident individuals.
“They are giving back themselves and there are countless students I could tell you story after story about where they were lost in a sense and then they found their purpose,” he said.
He added, “I believe that we are created with a passion and gift and we are also born to not hold that inside, but to give it away and serve. To see my students learn that it is about making a community stronger, one act at a time, one service at a time, one dream at a time — that is what really motivates me.”