Youth Leadership Manager, WILD Outside
Director of Education, Canadian Wildlife Federation
Of all the threats affecting the future of Canada’s wildlife and wild spaces, perhaps the greatest is apathy. Those who feel powerless in the face of mounting issues related to conservation, climate change, and the environment often wind up taking little to no action in supporting the cause. Fortunately, a wave of young Canadians across the country are taking up the fight to ensure a brighter future for our natural environments and wildlife populations.
WILD Outside is an opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone. By meeting bi-weekly and collaborating with others, I’ve improved my leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. Overall, my WILD Outside experiences have made me a better version of myself — dedicated and confident.
Jasmine Le, Moncton
Repurposing plastic waste from our oceans, planting pollinator gardens, removing invasive species, developing native seed banks, and installing bat houses are just a few of the nearly 280 environmental stewardship projects that have been conceived and delivered by participants in two unique Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) programs: WILD Outside (WO), which targets youth ages 15 to 18, and the Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC), which targets youth aged 18 to 30. Both programs continued to operate during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in hundreds of community-based conservation projects and over 346,000 service hours being completed from coast to coast.
The best way to ensure that this generation of young Canadians has a connection with the natural world is for them to have truly experienced it.
I love feeling one step closer to removing an invasive species or knowing that the native species planted will continue flourishing in the years to come and bring more biodiversity to the area.
Jessica Martinez, Vancouver
“If nature teaches us anything it’s how to adapt,” says Tirian Eynon, WILD Outside Youth Leadership Manager. “The success both programs have had in attracting participants and completing service projects despite fluctuating restrictions demonstrates the passion young Canadians have for environmental education and wildlife conservation.”
Conservation-based educational programming has always been a key pillar of the work being done at the CWF, which is celebrating its 60th year as Canada’s largest supporter-based conservation charity this year. Mike Bingley, CWF Director of Education, says that programs like the CCC and WO are instrumental in connecting young people to nature and inspiring personal action.
“The best way to ensure that this generation of young Canadians has a connection with the natural world is for them to have truly experienced it,” says Bingley. “Through these meaningful service-learning experiences, young people develop diverse skills while learning about themselves and the impact that they can have on the natural world. At the same time, they’re also having a real impact in their home community and in communities across Canada.”
The Canadian Conservation Corps was truly a life-changing experience for me. From camping for the first time during a 14-day expedition to working alongside ecologists exploring bears’ and wolves’ coexistence with humans in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, and then bringing the experience home to give back to my community in Montreal — I couldn’t have asked for anything more!
Sid Venkatesh, Montreal
The CWF now operates the WO program in 14 cities from Vancouver to St. John’s, while the CCC has been operating across the country since 2018. Both programs are offered free to participants through the CWF and are funded by the Government of Canada through the Canada Service Corps initiative.