Group shot 2012

Brendan Toews

2015 Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership

Ontario Nature’s sixth annual Youth Summit brought together 95 youth from 57 communities across the province for an inspiring, action-packed weekend. Held September 25-27, 2015 at YMCA Geneva Park, teens had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities and workshops including:

  • Pollinators and wildflowers
  • Nature discovery hike
  • Salamander survey
  • Fun with fly fishing
  • How to ‘be the change’
  • Debate on genetically modified organisms
  • Climate reality
  • First Nations ways of knowing
  • Ontario’s birds of prey
  • Sustainable gardening and youth leadership
  • Introduction to visual astronomy
  • Medicinal plants of Ontario
  • Insights into youth leadership
  • Making eco-art for community change

Other memorable moments included morning activities like canoeing, yoga, bird watching, swimming in Lake Couchiching, and an evening campfire with stories and songs to bring everyone together. The Great Group Challenge had teams facing off in fun challenges and participants developed personal action plans on pressing environmental issues at the Action Planning Forum.

Testimonials

  • “If I could summarize this experience in one word, it would have to be inspirational. I was not only surrounded by like-minded teens, but also adults who could help us on our journey. Honestly, there was so much fun going on that I didn’t even realize that I had learned so much about topics that I loved, and also topics I had no idea I was interested in. The experience was definitely rejuvenating, and helped me realize why I fell in love with our world in the first place!” – Christarin, age 16 from Scarborough
  • “The Youth Summit for me was an absolute blast! It came with such a positive message on the environment and conservation of it and what I can do to help. It inspired me to start a club at my high school where I can use a lot of the things I learned at the summit.” – Peter, age 17 from Barrie
  • “My weekend at the Youth Summit was one of the best weekends of my LIFE! I got to get out and explore in nature, learn about the earth and water and how we are all interconnected.  Sometimes it is hard to stay positive and believe that we can change the world, but the summit renewed my inspiration to keep working towards a brighter future for our little blue dot planet because there is no planet B.” – Lilian, age 17 from Toronto

 

For more photos, visit the Nature Guardians Facebook Page.

Thank you to our Nature Network members and others whose financial support has made this summit possible:

Bancroft Field Naturalists
Brereton Field Naturalists’ Club
Brodie Club
Carden Field Naturalists
Carolinian Canada Coalition
Charleston Lake Environmental Association
Conservation Halton
Conservation Ontario
Credit Valley Conservation
Durham Region Field Naturalists
Friends of Charleston Lake Park
Friends of MacGregor Point Park
Friends of Mashkinonje
Hamilton Naturalists’ Club
Kawartha Field Naturalists
Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority
Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority
Midland-Penetang Field Naturalists

Muskoka Field Naturalists
Nature Guelph
Nature League – Collingwood
North American Native Plant Society
North Durham Nature
Orillia Naturalists’ Club
Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club
Owen Sound Field Naturalists
Penokean Hills Field Naturalists
Peterborough Field Naturalists
Pickering Naturalists
The Quetico Foundation
Rankin Resource Group
Saugeen Field Naturalists
South Peel Naturalists’ Club
Thickson’s Woods Land Trust
Upper Ottawa Valley Nature Club/Four Seasons Conservancy
Waterloo Region Nature
Willow Beach Field Naturalists
York Environmental Stewardship

The success of the Youth Summit would not be possible without the contributions from the following program sponsors:

The Chawkers Foundation

 

2014 Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Community Action

Ontario Nature's fifth annual Youth Summit brought together 91 youth from 45 communities across the province for an inspiring, action-packed weekend. Held September 19-21, 2014 at YMCA Geneva Park, teens had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities and workshops including:

  • Bee box building
  • Foraging foods from forests
  • Nature discovery hike
  • Ontario's birds of prey
  • Reptile and amphibian ramble
  • DIY terrariums
  • Creating a pollinator pledge
  • Medicinal plants of Ontario
  • How to 'be the change'
  • Wildflower gardening
  • Natural body care products
  • Becoming a hero for sustainability
  • Pollinator and pesticide debate
 

Other memorable moments included morning activities like canoeing, yoga, bird watching, a swim in Lake Couchiching (for the brave few) and an evening campfire with stories and songs to bring everyone together. The Great Group Challenge had teams facing off in fun challenges and participants learned about how they can take local action at the Community Action Fair.

Testimonials

  • "This summit will have a huge impact on my life! Starting from learning how to save the planet using enviro-friendly body products to learning about things we can do to save animals and change what needs to be changed. I will be bringing this to my school to create an environment club. I am super excited!"
  • "Being in the outdoors and meeting so many like-minded people who were also passionate about the environment was such a refreshing experience. It is so nice to see that there are other people my age out there that share my passion for nature, and who want to create change in their communities for the environment."
  • "The summit was an unforgettable experience and the things I learned and the inspirations I discovered will stay with me forever! Thanks so much for making this summit possible because it has allowed me to set lots of community action goals and now I know exactly how to share my passion for the environment with the world. Can't wait for next year!"

Photos

For more photos, visit the Nature Guardians Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/NatureGuardians

Please check back for updates about the 2015 Youth Summit.

Thank you to our Nature Network member groups and others whose financial support made this summit possible:

Bancroft Field Naturalists

Brereton Field Naturalists

Brodie Club

Carolinian Canada Coalition

Conservation Ontario

Durham Region Field Naturalists

Friends of Charleston Lake Park

Friends of MacGregor Point Park

Friends of Mashkinonje

Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve

Hamilton Naturalists's Club

Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists

Midland-Penetang Field Naturalists

Muskoka Field Naturalists

Nature Guelph

Nature League

North American Native Plant Society

Orillia Naturalists' Club

Ottawa Field Naturalists' Club

Owen Sound Field Naturalists

Parry Sound Nature Club

Penokean Hills Field Naturalists

Peterborough Field Naturalists

Rankin Resource Group

Rotary Club of Cobourg

Saugeen Field Naturalists

South Peel Naturalists' Club

Thickson's Woods Land Trust

Upper Ottawa Valley Nature Club/Four Seasons Conservancy

Vankleek Hill Nature Society

Willow Beach Field Naturalists

York Environmental Stewardship

 

 

Click here to read about past youth summits.

For more information about the summit or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Sarah Hedges at sarahh@ontarionature.org.

The success of the Youth Summit would not be possible without the contributions from the following program sponsors:

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation The Big Carrot Toronto Field Naturalists

North Face Explore Fund

The Chawkers Foundation

MEC

 

2013 Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Green Solutions

September 2013 marked Ontario Nature’s biggest youth event to date – our fourth annual Youth Summit, run through our Nature Guardians Program. All told, 104 teenagers from 49 communities across Ontario attended the weekend-long summit at YMCA Geneva Park in Orillia, and participated in a variety of outdoor activities and workshops

Participants built bird feeders, learned about the Environmental Bill of Rights, searched for frogs and turtles, made natural body care products, debated green energy issues, learned about medicinal plants and much more. Hosted by Ontario Nature’s Youth Council, the summit had a strong youth leadership component and many activities were led by the council members themselves.

Participants made new friends, and were inspired by a highly-anticipated keynote speech by conservationist and filmmaker, Rob Stewart. Activities like canoeing, a polar bear dip, a high-energy team challenge and a campfire brought everyone together creating memories that are sure to last a lifetime.

Testimonials

  • “The summit reminded me of why I became passionate about the Earth around us, and made me realize there are many more people my age who have similar views, which I loved! It gave me insight into pursuing a future in the environmental field, and what I can do to make an impact now.”
  • “I already want to go back. This weekend I: met new friends, caught frogs, canoed through the rain, learned how to identify plants, held turtles, photographed the sky, met Rob Stewart and learned what couldn’t have been learned in a classroom.”
  • “The summit has filled me with hope and positivity. The people I’ve met and the time we’ve shared here will stay with me forever, always giving me hope and reminding me to always show kindness and respect for the earth and the people around me.”

Photos

Take a look at the 2013 Youth Summit photos on the Nature Guardians Facebook Page.

Please check back for updates about the 2014 Youth Summit.

Thank you to our Nature Network members and others whose financial support has made this summit possible:

Brodie Club 

Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club

Carolinian Canada Coalition

Owen Sound Field Naturalists

Cobourg Rotary Club

Peterborough Field Naturalists

Durham Region Field Naturalists

Rankin Resource Group

Friends of Charleston Lake

Rideau District High School

Friends of MacGregor Point Park

South Peel Naturalists’ Club

Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists

Thickson’s Wood Land Trust

Nature Guelph

Upper Ottawa Valley Nature Club/Four Seasons Conservancy

Nature League – Collingwood

Willow Beach Field Naturalists

Nature London

York Environmental Stewardship

Orillia Naturalists’ Club

 

 

The success of the Youth Summit would not be possible without the contributions from the following program sponsors:

RBC logo
Ontario Trillium Foundation
Ontario Power Generation TD
Conservation Ontario Toronto Field Naturalists The Big Carrot

 

2012 Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Justice

For the third year in a row, Ontario Nature held a Youth Summit as part of our Nature Guardians program. From September 28-30, 2012, 75 like-minded teenagers from 40 communities across the province attended a youth summit at YMCA Geneva Park in Orillia. Participants enjoyed outdoor activities and workshops, while developing skills to address conservation issues that affect their home communities.

Hosted by Ontario Nature’s Youth Council, the summit had a strong youth leadership component and many activities were led by the Youth Council members.

Simon Jackson, founder and chair of the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition, delivered an inspirational keynote speech emphasizing the need for perseverance and collaboration in conservation work. Youth participants had fun with a team challenge, early morning canoeing, group games and plenty of nature hikes.

Please check back for updates about the 2013 Youth Summit.

Testimonials

Responses from this year’s Summit were overwhelmingly positive and many youth shared how they can apply what they learned towards creating change in their communities:

  • “I had a great time at the 2012 Youth Summit – it is always inspiring to meet so many motivated and talented people. I learned about First Nations, global governance, snakes, birds and Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights. Simon Jackson was a great presenter and he motivated me to take a stand for the spirit bear and speak out against social injustice.” – Lucas, Mississauga
  • “This weekend was one of the most refreshing, memorable, inspirational moments that I have been fortunate enough to experience. I’ve met so many amazing people who all have stories to tell about places they’ve been and people they’ve met. One of the most memorable moments of this weekend was the canoe trip (my first ever!), the Great Group Challenge and being immersed in nature… I want to make a difference to do everything in my power to protect our beautiful earth.” – Lucy, Toronto
  • “Listening to the keynote speaker, Simon Jackson, gave me so much inspiration to take home. Though on the whole his spirit bear campaign was successful, he had many failures along the way. It just goes to show that perseverance is key and that no matter how many challenges you are faced with, keep your head up and follow through. Never give up. Fight for what you believe.” – Aimee, Southampton

Photos

Please click here to see photos of the 2012 Youth Summit.

 

The success of the Youth Summit would not be possible without the generous contributions from the following program sponsors:

Toronto Field Naturalists OPG

 

 

The Big Carrot

 

Financial support for this event has also been provided by Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment as part of the Lake Huron Framework for Community Action.

Thank you to our Nature Network members and others whose financial support has made this Summit possible:

Brereton Field Naturalists Club, Bruce Resource Stewardship Network, Carolinian Canada Coalition, Durham Region Field Naturalists, Friends of MacGregor Point Park, Friends of the Osprey, Guelph Field Naturalists, Kingston Field Naturalists, Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, Lambton Wildlife Inc., Muskoka Field Naturalists, Orillia Naturalists’ Club, Pickering Naturalists, Quinte Field Naturalists, Rankin Resource Group, Six Mile Lake Conservationists Club, South Peel Naturalists’ Club, Thunder Bay Field Naturalists, Upper Ottawa Valley Nature Club/Four Seasons Conservancy, West Humber Field Naturalists, Willow Beach Field Naturalists, John Ambrose, Peter Beckett, Pamela Courtot, Joan Daynard, Gerry Pierce, Joan Rosebush, Vicki Shmolka, Phyllis Tremblay

 

2011 Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Sustainable Living

Ontario Nature’s second annual Youth Summit was hosted on September 23-25, 2011. Part of our Nature Guardians program, the summit brought together 80 teenagers from 39 communities across the province. Participants joined outdoor activities and workshops related to the theme of biodiversity and sustainable living including:

  • Animal tracking
  • Bird banding
  • Cooking with local food
  • First Nations traditional recipes
  • Green building design
  • How to lead a nature hike
  • Protecting Ontario’s species at risk
  • Sustainable high schools
  • Water sustainability
  • And much more!

Outdoor educator and sustainability expert, Lisa Glithero, delivered an inspirational keynote speech that got everyone thinking about the power of youth to protect the environment. A high-energy team challenge and relaxing campfire allowed youth to get to know each other and build friendships that will last a lifetime.

Photo Gallery of 2011 Youth Summit for Biodiversity

 

The success of the Youth Summit would not have been possible without the generous contributions from the following sponsors:

Ontario Trillium Foundation OPG
Toronto Field Naturalists
Autodesk
TD Friends of the Environment

 

  • Mountain Equipment Co-op (in-kind)
  • Thunder Bay District Stewardship Council
  • Township of King

We are extremely grateful to our Nature Network members who have sponsored youth participants:

  • Carolinian Canada Coalition
  • Guelph Field Naturalists
  • Friends of MacGregor Point Park
  • Lambton Wildlife Inc.
  • Muskoka Field Naturalists
  • Orillia Naturalists Club
  • Thunder Bay Field Naturalists
  • West Humber Field Naturalists
  • Bethany Armstrong
  • Joan Rosebush
  • John Ambrose

2010 Youth Summit for Biodiversity

Thanks to everyone who attended Ontario Nature’s first ever Youth Summit for Biodiversity!

 

Building a Bird Feeder
Dr. Roberta Bondar's keynote speech on Saturday CREDIT: Brendan Toews

We hope you enjoyed the three days of workshops, presentations, discussions and networking.  Thank you for making this Summit such a huge success.

Knowing that young people have an important role to play in protecting the natural environment, Ontario Nature brought together more than 60 young participants to work on issues related to biodiversity. Participants learned about and discussed all the ways we can make a lasting difference in our communities.

Those who attended the Summit enjoyed inspirational workshops and presentations – particularly the keynote speeches by Dr. Roberta Bondar and Matt Tod. Garry Sault, an elder from the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, opened and closed the Summit with a blessing and ran an extremely popular workshop on Indigenous knowledge of nature. Storytelling, music, campfires, and nature photography further enriched the weekend.

Check out the testimonials and our photo gallery. Feel free to add your own pictures and stories from the Summit. We’d love to hear from you!

Testimonials

“I loved how passionate everyone was about what they do. The weekend really inspired me to join more youth groups and pursue a career in ecology or biology.”

– Martina, Pickering

“I really enjoyed the variety of the workshops offered; there was something for everyone and that is difficult to manage but it worked. I loved having Roberta Bondar come, she was very inspirational and it was an incredible experience.”

- Katrina, Port Rowan

“I love meeting people who share my passion for the environment – the strength was in the diversity of information and people, and the energy and knowledge that was brought to the table. The whole thing was just awesome!”

- Laura, Toronto

Ontario Nature gratefully acknowledges support from these sponsors:

Ontario Trillium FoundationMEC Logo

 

Thank you for inspiring and empowering tomorrow’s environmental leaders!

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