Student Blog
Jan 22
REFLECTION: Parksfest

Parksfest Youth Film Night

I was very fortunate to attend the Parksfest Youth Film Night on behalf of Youth4Action last month to connect and network with other wonderful organizations operating in Metro Vancouver, and of course to enjoy the screening of The Peel Project!


What is Parksfest?

The goal of Parksfest is to explore the connections we have with our parks, the benefits they provide, the communities they serve and our role in caring for and improving these parks. Parksfest features a series of events, including film screenings, workshops and keynotes. Through these efforts, we can create better and more accessible green spaces for all.


Why Parksfest?

Regional parks and greenspaces are a place used by many to escape the hustle of the city and connect with nature. These parks also provide valuable habitat for native species. These important places do not exist on their own; they need our attention and stewardship in order for our communities to continue to reap the benefits of their existence. The Coast Salish First Nations have called these lands home for thousands of years and continue to depend on them for their livelihoods and for their culture. As Youth4Action, we know how much amazing learning and growth can happen when youth are given the opportunity to challenge themselves in nature. We need to keep these doors open for youth of today and in the future!

 

Who is Parksfest?

There were many people attending from many organizations working towards a more sustainable future, interested in the importance of connecting with nature. I had the chance to speak with people from three organizations in particular.

 

  • The Fraser Basin Council focuses on community sustainability planning, environmental education, and habitat restoration.

     
  • The Wildlife Rescue Association rehabilitates wildlife affected by human activity and provides public education on co-existing with urban wildlife.

     
  • Ocean Wise is an organization which works towards a world with healthy and flourishing oceans, through education, engagement, research and marine mammal rescue.


The Peel Project

The film The Peel Project was absolutely amazing and inspiring! (Trailer here.) The Peel Project features the Peel River Watershed (PRW) in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. The PRW is one of the last remaining pristine watersheds in the world, covering 68,000 square kilometres. The PRW is facing challenges, as the region is opened up for development by mining and oil companies, despite opposition from local communities and Indigenous groups, including the Na-Cho Nyäk Dän, Tr'ondёk Hwёch'in, and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nations.

Aerial view of the Peel Watershed - Credit to Peter Mather from CPAWS Yukon Chapter

 

The Peel Project follows six artists, some with absolutely no experience in wilderness exploration, as they set off on an epic 20-day canoe trip down the Peel River. The spectacular scenery of the Peel River provides the backdrop of drama and growth by the artists, as they struggle through the ups and downs of wilderness exploration while attempting to capture the essence of the Peel River Watershed in their art


What I Learnt:

Step out of your comfort zone, explore the world, and discover new possibilities. I could connect my personal experiences with The Peel Project through the sense of adventure and wonder that comes from being in the wilderness. Let's encourage one another to explore nature in our unique ways!

 

Pristine and wild spaces are rare. Let's take care of the nature in our communities, whether on a national level, such as with The Peel Project, or right down to your backyard with native plant gardens to create wildlife habitat.

 

I was inspired to see young artists find their place and grow. I can relate to the emotions faced by the artists of the Peel Project, being lost and uncertain of the path we need to take to address the issues that face our local and global communities. In the face of such mountainous challenges, it can be overwhelming to have the sense of responsibility thrusted onto our shoulders, as youth inheriting the planet. I often grapple with feelings of inner conflict, as I weigh the obligation to care for my community and my individual interests. The Peel Project highlighted to me that my passions can be the way to changing the world around us for the better. We can make an impact through our individual passions, whether through science, culture, art, business, law and many more! Every field and every passion has a part to play in building a better future, and we do not need to force ourselves into one career or another in order to contribute. One way or another, we can find a path to doing our part in building a better future.

Jay Matsushiba-Youth4Action Jr. Facilitator

Check out Metro Vancouver Events to see more events like ParksFest! We would love to connect with you at any upcoming events!


Jan 15
MVST 2018 Fall at a Glance

​Hello Youth4Action team! We just finished wrapping up another amazing year of MVST. We made so many great memories and new friends, and we are excited to share them with you.

 

Leadership Clinic, Visit to Nada

This year, we had some cool experiences that were new to our MVST Fall classes. One of these days was attending Nada, a zero-waste market for our Leadership Clinic. We witnessed how zero waste markets are possible, and how all the excess plastic we see in markets are not needed. This day had the Sustainable Food Systems Team excited and inspired for a potential future leadership clinic idea. This was an eye-opening experience and made us remember to always carry our own reusable bags next time we go shopping. We recommend paying a visit to this market! You can find their information at this link https://www.nadagrocery.com

 

Fall Class at Metro Tower

During our brainstorming class at the Metro Vancouver head office, we spent the afternoon outside with a great team building activity that ended in a lot of laughter. We played a variation of the game dodgeball where we partnered up and the blindfolded person had to throw the ball as the other partner had to guide them around.

Capilano Dam

Going for a walk up to Capilano Dam and the salmon hatchery was a great experience! We spent time at the dam witnessing the salmon, prompting us to reflect on our water sources in Metro Vancouver and the importance of this vital resource. The Water Team was especially inspired to shape their own leadership clinic to connect human impacts on nature and how we can mitigate those impacts. The development of the dam posed a challenge for the salmon run, yet the impacts were mitigated by the salmon ladder and hatchery. To learn more about how human activities affect the environment and what we can do, the Water Team decided to plan a visit to the Coastal Oceans Research Institute and explore the issues surrounding microplastics. 

Last Class Vancouver Museum

On our last day of classes, we attended the Vancouver Museum to present our Influence Project ideas with our peers, and brainstorm future sustainability initiatives. After this, we had an incredible vegan meal prepared by Ellie with various vegetables in a warm blend as a delicious chilli.

 

We then explored the exhibits at the museum, as our favourite was the Haida Now exhibit. We learned about Haida traditions, art, and environmentally cautious customs and practices. This was a great day concluding our MVST 2018 time together. See you next year!

Nov 27
Y4A and MVST HIGHLIGHTS: What You Missed

November 27, 2018

Well, it's been quite the busy year over here at MVST and a highlight reel of the past year is long overdue. Hmm… where do we start? Between the numerous leadership clinics, conferences, events and courses, we've managed to summarize some of the best noteworthy moments of 2017 and 2018 thus far!

 

- 2017 -

Clinics

We Love Water Leadership Clinic


Snowshoeing at Mount Seymour and learning about where our drinking water comes from, connecting to local ecosystem and hearing about some exciting new student action projects!

 

Love Food, Hate Waste Leadership Clinic

Learning about composting at a market garden on school property!  Thanks to Fresh Roots , Metro Vancouver's food waste campaign and local documentary film maker Jenny Rustemeyer!

From Me to Sea Leadership Clinic

Touring the waste water treatment plant and participating in a beach clean-up!

 

Love Food Hate Waste Leadership Clinic

Touring Metro Vancouver's Landfill and visiting Lupii Café-zero waste café!

 

Conferences & Events

Vancouver School Board Sustainability Conference

Hosted a workshop in February on water sustainability in Metro Vancouver. Check out more about the conference here: https://vsb-sustainabilityconference.com/ 

 

Do it Green Conference

Hosted a workshop ("Key Ingredients for Success") at the Burnaby district-wide, student lead conference.

 

Global Rewind 2017

Supported a student lead networking conference held at Science World, with a purpose to connect youth leaders in sustainability, to share knowledge on sustainability issues related to our world and community and to explore solutions strategies and ideas for our future.

 

Courses

MVST

Learned about systems thinking, sustainability, connection to nature and action planning in our region!


- 2018 -

 

Leadership Clinics

We Love Water Leadership Clinic

Snowshoeing again up at Mount Seymour, learning about where our drinking water comes from, connecting to local ecosystem and hearing about new student action projects for this year! 

 

Conferences & Events

Global Rewind 2018

Global Rewind, Youth4Action and Teen Advisory group at science world came together to host an evening event called Generations: Closing the gap, which connected across generations to learn from each other about sustainability. Thank you to the guest workshop facilitators:

And to Lupii Community Café for providing our zero waste dinner.

      

Vancouver School Board Sustainability Conference

Hosted an action planning workshop at the VSB sustainability conference! See more on the conference and details here on upcoming events here: https://vsb-sustainabilityconference.com/

 

Ready Summit Richmond

Our Youth4Action team was an advisor for this year's Ready Summit event held in Richmond. We worked to support a team of high school youth champions to deliver a workshop on Water Conservation! Checkout more on the summit at their website: http://readysummit.ca/readysummit2018/

 

Climate 2050

Metro Vancouver held a unique youth-focussed forum this past summer in order to get input from the public (aged 14-35) on the development of the region's Climate 2050 Strategic Plan. Many Youth4Action alumni were in attendance as well as a number of passionate and engaged youth from across the region!

 

I hope this gave you a bit of a sense of what we've been up to over the past year. There are lots more updates to come for this fall as MVST has been up to a lot of exciting stuff – Stay tuned!

 

Y4A Team

 

Aug 19
MVST 2016 Recap!

​By Ariel Zhang​

I can't believe that it's almost a week since camp ended! It has been an amazing experience for both participants and staff. Here is a breakdown of what we did each day and the lessons learnt.


Day 1
Introductions to camp, some anxious feelings and a haida welcome circle. We also hiked the area around our campsite.
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Day 2
The most classroom-intensive day of the week; we learned about systems thinking, the (broad) definition of sustainability, and helped the students find why they are passionate. In between the workshops, we hiked to the Cleveland dam for some fresh air!
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Day 3
Alumni day! We started the day off with an alumni panel, moderated by two of our students. Next, students had a chance to talk about their projects with alumni and community partners in the proaction cafe.
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Day 4
We toured the Lions Gate waste water treatment plant to get a look at what happens when we flush. It's important to be aware of the systems in place that help us sustainabily manage our waste! Next we went to Grant narrows to start our canoe journey!
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Day 5
We camped the night and in the morning we hiked to a nearby waterfall for a quick dip! That night we took our canoes out onto the water to watch the Perseid meteor shower
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Day 6
We paddled out to colony farm, where we had our final dinner together. There were alot of pictures, hugs and appreciations given out. Thankfully it's not goodbye forever, since our first fall class is in less than three weeks.
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Camp has shown me the passion and the power of youth, and has given me hope for our generation. The waterfall and the night sky has reminded me the importance of protecting the land we call home.

I am also astounded by all of the journal entries written by the students, each one is so thoughtful and poetic. Here's an excerpt from one of our students Victoria Teo :  "With the millions of shattered silver-grey clam shells beneath my feet, I can't help but recognise that each and everyone one of them had once held life. The perfectness of this environment is unmistakably beautiful. The complete balance of nature is unimaginable. However, we humans have altered that balance. We, the selfish, have wanted too much and given back too little. We dare to ask, 'Will it hurt much if I killed this one organism? If I threw this into the sea?' Guilt, an emotion felt by many, is rarely associated with the world around us. The scars the humans have carved into the earth are unforgiving and tragic. Yet we turn a blind eye. 'I didn't do that" 'It wasn't me.' 'How is that even possible?' But it is. It's you and I. It's all of us." -- Sit Spot at the beach at the Water Treatment Plant​
Aug 06
Less than 2 days left before MVST 2016!

By Ariel Zhang​

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Wow! It's less than a week before the start of MVST 2016, and the team couldn't be more excited! It's just crazy how time flies by! Everyone in the Youth4action team has been working hard to make the camp possible. From scanning countless student forms, to packing up the van, to coordinating alumni day, it's been so busy these last few months leading up to camp. Despite some hiccups along the way, we know that in the camp will be a rewarding experience, for both the students and for us. 

Ariel, one of the junior facilitators has been coordinating the social media says that she's most excited to see the participants grow at the camp and over the next few months.  She's not looking foward to the mosquitos that will undoubtidly swarm her when they are camping...

Aaron the other junior facillitator, says he's most excited for alumni day. It's a great oppourtunity for participants and alumni of MVST to network and learn from each other. Both Ariel and Aaron have been planning and coordinating alumni day for several months now, and it'll be great to see how the day turns out. Aaron also says that he's not looking foward to his face turning to a tomato from the sunburns...

Hopefully our participants are as excited as we are for this year's MVST!

Apr 13
Top 8 Reasons Why You Should Apply for MVST

Are you wondering what students get out of being a part of the Metro Vancouver Sustainability Toolbox? Check out these top 8 reasons to apply and what past participants had to say about their experience!

1.      Reconnect  with nature and spend time learning outside

"I fell in love with the place, spending time outside… the cool stream, the icy waterfall, the starry sky, free from light pollution… so secluded, so perfect!"

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2.      Make long-lasting friendships with like-minded youth leaders from across Metro Vancouver

 "I am grateful for all of the wonderfully amazing people I have met. MVST has given me lifelong friends that I can rely on."
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3.      Explore the concept of sustainability, systems thinking and different topics such as waste, water and food through field experiences in the Metro Vancouver area

"I learned what sustainability is and how it relates to what we are trying to accomplish.  Sustainability is taking what you need while still leaving resources for future generations to survive and thrive.  Everything is related in a complex, interconnected web of the earth and us. The environment, animals, food, water, all of our basic needs are branches under this sustainability umbrella."

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4.      Work on an action project or start your own initiative to have a positive impact on your school community

"I listen to my peers and hear great school sustainability successes. Now when I look at my school, instead of seeing failure, I see opportunity for positive change to happen.. and for me to play a role as a leader to make that change happen."

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5.      Gain outdoor skills and experiences like paddling and camping

"The canoe trip was so much more than paddle strokes… it was intentional curriculum and taught leadership and teamwork… instead of telling us what these skills are and giving us examples, we experienced it and take away the learning to apply it to the world."

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6.      Gain confidence and develop important skills like leadership and team work skills.

"I learned that I have the capability to be a leader when I am encouraged by a group of like-minded peers. Also I learned that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses; it's important to hone those skills and make them beneficial to the team. MVST taught me that working together makes big changes happen and how we are able to tighten those bonds to form a strong team."

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7.      Try new things and step outside of your comfort zone

"A lot of times I've managed to surprise myself with what I was able to accomplish, and I would have never known those capabilities unless I had taken on those challenges despite the doubts.

I believe I was able to recognize an area of improvement where I could play a role in the larger movement of environmental sustainability in Metro Vancouver, and had some success in bridging the gaps between some of the circles involved in environmental sustainability."

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8.      Join a supportive network of fellow passionate peers and adult-allies working in the field, and become a part of the Youth4Action and MVST network for life!

"I am grateful for meeting so many wonderful and amazing people. My circle expanded so much and I was able to bond with MVST participants and leadership team; my network grew and I am so happy that these people came into my life."

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Still have questions about MVST? Get in touch with us at youth4action@metroancouver.org. Applications are due on May 10, 2016 and more info can be found on this page:
http://www.metrovancouver.org/events/youth-leadership/sustainability-toolbox/

Jul 29
EcoFEST 2015 - Behind the Scenes by student leader Annaliese Meyer

June 6th dawned bright and warm, the sliver of sun that peeked over the horizon unimpeded by clouds. It was the morning of ecoFEST 2015, a youth environmental festival- the planning of which had dominated my every waking morning for the past eight months.

In grade 9, I was lucky enough to discover my passion in environmentalism. By grade 10, I realized that not everyone had the opportunities and lucky breaks that had led me to that discovery. That revelation prompted me to found ecoFEST Canada as a festival that would provide a day for the youth of MetroVancouver to learn about all the incredible environmental volunteer opportunities in the Lower Mainland and connect with other youth leaders. This year, the third year of the festival, definitely allowed us to get closer to that goal than ever before.

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Putting on a large-scale event like this is not something that can be done alone- teaming up with others not only helps mitigate the weight of the responsibilities but also provides opportunities to bounce ideas off each other and find new areas for growth. Our executive team expanded exponentially this year, not to mention the dozens of volunteers that helped tirelessly on the day of the festival and the days leading up to it. It's easy to get tired and want to quit when the planning process stretches so long, and that's another way a team makes all the difference- surrounding myself with equally passionate people inspired me to stay motivated and keep going many times. 

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The Process

Our first step in planning ecoFEST 2015 was, and will be probably for every year of the festival, obtaining funds. This year, we were so humbled to receive a grant from the City of New Westminster, not only enabling us to put on the festival, but to run workshops throughout the year harnessing skills like art, music and cooking to enhance envionrmental leadership (For more information on upcoming workshops, see http://ecofestcanada.org/ ). This grant allowed us a lot of freedom to experiment and expand our ideas.

Next came location scouting- there are so many wonderful public spaces around MetroVancouver. This year, we decided to use the New Westminster Quay Boardwalk. It's easily accessible by transit, brings in a lot of daily traffic and has many restaurants and amenities close by. It also has a ready supply of power and available water sources. It also happens to be right on the stunning Fraser River!

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Once our location was set, one of the hardest parts of planning began- choosing a date. We usually hold the festival in May, but this year due to so many conflicts and awesome events held nearby, we actually had to change the day twice, eventually settling on June 6th. In the end, it worked out for the best: both of the other dates had been gray and rainy! With those two pieces of crucial information, we could begin contacting organizations to present. In past years, we found we got a much better response by sending out individual emails to each organization- which means this year, we send out almost 50 emails asking organizations to join us! For both volunteers and organizations, we used online forms to consolidate information in an easy-access file.  ​

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One of my favourite parts of ecoFEST planning is choosing the bands! With our grant, we had the flexibility to enlist some professional bands, one of which I had seen in concert a few years before and absolutely loved. I also discovered some other incredible local bands by trolling the internet and asking around. Clearly the youth in our city are pretty talented, because two of our bands were made up of young artists and a few were friends of mine! In the end, our line-up was Luke Wallace (https://lukewallace.bandcamp.com/) as an opener, then the Wishbone (https://www.facebook.com/TheWishboneMusic?fref=nf), Dysfunktional (http://dysfunk.weebly.com/), and finally Rococode (http://rococode.com/). 

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Next up was finding some speakers to share their inspiring stories- luckily, after attending many camps and conferences through my high school career I'd gotten to know some pretty amazing people, and some of them were willing to come out and speak. Emily Mittertreiner, Aliya Dossa and Jacqueline Shen definitely made some people stop and think. 

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Advertising is also a big factor in ensuring the success of an event. We plugged it on social media (to the point where several of my friends jokingly threatened to block me… oops), talked to local newspapers, did a spot on Shaw TV and were mentioned on CBC Radio. There are so many outlets to reach people these days! However, an important one not to forget is word of mouth- not only did simply talking to people get them interested in the festival, it also led me to make some new friends.​

Most of the stress of ecoFEST 2015 came from the little details- ensuring we rented enough tents, last minute drop-outs, transportation issues, sound equipment struggles. Those are the parts that we file under 'administration' and tend to procrastinate on, but really, they can make or break an event. We faced many challenges like that this year, but in the end, we managed to pull through for a great day.

The final count came to almost 20 booths, including one with live owls and hawks (!!!!!!), 3 speakers, 4 bands, 21 volunteers, masses of attendees and 5 hours of sunshine, music, art and celebrating the planet. 

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I graduated high school this year and will be heading off to Victoria in September. So the time has come for me to hand the reins off to: Ana Mramor and Jordan Whittaker. As much as ecoFEST Canada probably made my high school experience exponentially more stressful and hectic, I wouldn't change it for the world. And who knows? Maybe Vancouver Island will have their very own ecoFEST 2016!

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(Papa Dave's Pizza donated pizza for all of us!!! In compostable boxes I might add)

To check out our workshops and sign up for one that interests you, or find out more about our festival, visit http://ecofestcanada.org/  and follow us on Twitter at @ecofestnews. 




Mar 30
Think & Eat Green Institute Reflection: Part 1 by Student Leader Chaissan Ashcroft

Albert Einstein, one of the greatest problem solvers in modern history, once stated that, “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.”  Although all quotes are open to individual perception, I recognize this quote as addressing the fact that we need to continue to learn, and develop our own minds and views in order to solve the problems that we encounter in our lives.  Our minds must evolve within the very process of solving problems.


Every year, it becomes increasingly clear the environment is one of the principal issues that we face in our modern world.  More specifically, we have adopted inadequate sustainability practices.  We are facing a major problem, which will only continue to grow unless we are open to growing and learning ourselves.


On Saturday, January 24, 2015, a sizable group of people, including myself, attended the Think & Eat Green @ School Institute, an opportunity to develop our understanding and knowledge on sustainability and its direct relationship with eating.  Through this program, we were able to learn about various factors pertaining to sustainability, contributing to us being able to become better leaders, and problem-solvers in this crucial field.


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Upon arrival at David Thompson Secondary School, the location of our learning adventure, we were immediately met with many like-minded individuals, who shared common concerns, and were all keen to make a difference.  There were people from all different backgrounds, all with their own areas where they wanted to make a difference.  Coming from a high school, I have a clear target and specific goals, but I found it both exciting and enriching to meet people who had their own unique target areas and goals.


Throughout the day, I was exposed to a wealth of information, and hands-on experiences that helped me better understand the issues that we face, but more importantly, some ways that we can begin to solve them.


From the moment the program began, beginning with several brief speeches, I was moved by the commitment the organizers and presenters had.  Rarely do we see people possess such passion and knowledge over an issue.  The entire experience at the Institute was led by leaders and motivators, who had a significant impact on myself, and encouraged all present to become leaders themselves.


Since I was very young -- maybe four or five years old -- I have loved to cook.  Therefore I was delighted that I would have an opportunity to cook during the Institute. The cooking experience greatly contributed, and enriched the other topics that we learned about. Additionally, it gave us all a chance to meet and bond, sharing our views, and what is important to us.  Making these connections helped renew my belief in humanity, and realize that we are not alone in our quest to make a difference.


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After a delicious and nourishing lunch, we continued on to part two of our learning experience.  For my group, our second session involved the production of food, composting, and the food cycle.  We learned a great deal from this part of the program, where we were split into groups, and sent off on a rotation, visiting various experts, each immensely knowledgeable in their given area.  Once again, it was very moving to see such passion and knowledge, and to have that knowledge so readily available.


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We learned about topics ranging from all parts of the food cycle, which was something that I did not have a great amount of knowledge about previously.  It was fascinating to learn about so much information in such great depth.  I learned so much from this part of the Institute, and genuinely felt like I was beginning to understand with far greater insight what sustainability means, and how we can be sustainable.


The entire experience was very hands-on, while also containing many auditory and visual components, which made it easy to appeal to all types of learners.  Additionally, the hands-on components allowed us to experience the sustainability process ourselves, making it far more ea​sy to take away information, and apply it to our own lives.


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After a long, but enriching day, the first day of the Institute came to a close with reflections.  This was a time where we were able to think about how we can apply the valuable learning to our own lives.  Reflecting can often be a difficult and stressful experience, but now, just a little while after the experience, I feel as though I can reflect very easily.  I now fully appreciate how the experience will continually impact me.  I now understand that every additional thing that I have learned and will learn pertaining to sustainability will contribute to my ability to solve sustainability issues in the future.  I am now thrilled to be taking part the second part of the Institute, where I will learn more, and further hone my ability to play my part in solving one of the greatest crises of our time.

Mar 25
Why You Should Check Out Global Rewind! by Student Leader Zoe Luke

Just two years ago when I attended the Global Rewind, I was in grade 7 pretending to be in grade 8 (sorry!) and tagged along with my older brother to the event. At that point, I barely knew anything about sustainability, but I was excited as I entered Science World to the Global Rewind.

    I remember being at the world cafe discussion groups and meeting all kinds of different people - people from organizations, different sustainability groups, and just so many students and adults passionate and connected to the environment.

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    The Global Rewind is what got me into sustainability; I left the event with information of many opportunities I had just learned about. One of them was ​"Catching the Spirit" (CTS), and after I attended a CTS camp, I was even more passionate about the environment and also found out about the Metro Vancouver Sustainability Toolbox (MVST) course, which further extended my connection with sustainability!


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    I would definitely encourage participating in the Global Rewind - whether you are completely new to sustainability, or already a part of environmental groups - get ready to meet new people, learn more, and have fun! This year's event will be taking place on the evening of May 8th, 2015 at Science World. Check back for more details soon!

Mar 25
A Reflection on the Green Collar Futures Conference by Student Leader Bronwyn Vaisey

"Do you know that based on a wide range of sources, the green elements of BC's economy are growing faster than the province's economy as a whole and are expected to continue to do so over the next decade? This is important information as you start your career journey; knowing what careers will be in demand when you graduate is a key to success."

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On Saturday February the 7th, instead of staying home or spending time with friends, I did something different. I took a leap into investing in my future and sky-trained down to Burnaby to attend the 2015 Green Collars Futures Career Conference.  I arrived slightly apprehensive, as I did not know anyone else who had signed up for the conference nor was I entirely sure what to expect for the course of the day.   As it turned out, however, I had no need to be nervous. Within moments of my arrival, I bumped into a group of peers I had met the previous week at the Zero Waste and Sustainable Schools Leadership Clinic. Moving together into the lobby, we were met with over 150 other expectant youths, all of whom had shown up for similar reason as us. We were all drawn to the environment in some way and desired the knowledge to be able to incorporate that interest into our future careers.  


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As we all sat down for the opening statements and the first Keynote speaker (Professor of Marine Ecology, Dr. Isabella Côté), I pondered which tables I would pick to visit for the rest of the day. The aim of the Green Collars Futures Career Conference was to expose high school students to possible future careers that incorporate green initiatives as well as to open students' eyes to the vast set of opportunities and paths we each have ahead of us. To do this, twenty-seven different mentors from all reaches of the community gathered together to share their career journeys with us and to explain how they began excelling in the green economy.  Each student was to pick five different mentors, whom they would be given to opportunity to talk to and learn from throughout the five cycles of the day.  


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Over the course of the day, I visited with an Environmental Law Student, a Marketing Coordinator, an Environmental Economist, a Sustainability Project Manager and a Structural Engineer.  Each and every one gave me insights into careers I had either never even considered before, or never knew could have an environmental side.  As the day ended, I was left with maybe more questions than I had received answers to; however, my head was filled to the brim with thoughts and ideas about what I could do in the future and how I might actually be able to incorporate my passion for the environment and sustainability into whatever career I find myself leading in the future.  ​

As a youth on the brink of taking the next step towards independence and adulthood, deciding a career path or even simply which faculty to apply for in university or college is often one of the most stressful decisions made during this period of life. I know it is personally something that weighs heavily on my mind. However, events such as the Green Collars Futures Career Conference and talking one-on-one with mentors who have faced the same situation, make fears seem not only less overwhelming but inspire me towards looking forward to all the opportunities stretched out before me. 

For more information of this year's conference, check out the footage here​.  ​

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