Lands to Great Lakes

Lands to Great Lakes

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

TELL ME and I'll forget; SHOW ME and I may remember; INVOLVE ME and I'll understand: a new generation of engaged youth environmental professionals

By Jason Tran
Take a second and listen to what our ecosystems are saying: climate change, global warming, water shortages, food security, biodiversity loss, fragmented communities; the list of concerns seem to expand with each passing day. Despite these complex issues that challenge our social, economic and environmental fabric, there is much reason to be optimistic. Policies and regulations continue to be enhanced and implemented to more effectively manage our natural resources. Across the country, stakeholders of all shapes and sizes synergize their collaborative efforts in meaningful partnerships to affect positive change. While Canadians as a whole are becoming more aware of environmental concerns1, perhaps the greatest sense of optimism is derived from the leadership that our youth display.

More Canadian students are enrolling in post secondary environmentally related programs, such as conservation biology and bio resource management to name a few2. As youth are our future, this new generation of young conversationalists are expected to fill more than 100 000 environmental jobs that will become available over the next decade due to a retiring workforce3. While these soon to be young professionals await their turn to carve their own footprint, they remain engaged and not dormant. Youth are soaking up a plethora of training and professional development opportunities, continually refining their skills and preparing themselves for an exciting career in the green sector.

Initiatives such as Ontario’s Stewardship Ranger program offer diverse outdoor experiences, from the restoration of native habitats to cleaning up streams and riparian corridors.  Others such as Environment Canada’s Science Horizon Youth Internship, the Federal Student Work Experience and Ontario’s Internship program prepares young people with opportunities to develop knowledge, skills and experiences to succeed in environment based careers.

The A.D. Latornell Symposium is another venue common amongst young professionals; either attending as a delegate, presenting student research posters and or participating as a conference moderator or in the YCP program. Collectively, these initiatives (and not exclusive to those mentioned above) provide experiential learning opportunities that compliment young professionals’ post secondary training, reinforcing the fact that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

As we, the current workforce, push ahead with our efforts to manage and protect the natural commons, we should be encouraged and enthusiastic about the quality of highly skilled young professionals that will sustain our environmental legacy. The world is a beautiful place and worth fighting for and they, the youth, are being the change they want to see in this world.

1. Environment trumps health care, Afghanistan as key issue poll
Jason Tran is the Liaison Officer for the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) at the University of Guelph. In this role, he coordinates OAC’s educational outreach initiatives, which support high school SHSM programs in environment, agriculture, food science, business, horticulture, forestry and energy.


1 comment:

  1. What an encouraging article about the involvement of youth in the environment and conservation. I wholeheartedly agree that programs and opportunities like the ones presented at A.D Latornell "reinforce the fact that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts".

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