2016 Youth Summit Brendan Toews

Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership

Ontario Nature’s seventh annual Youth Summit brought together 107 youth from 61 communities across the province for an inspiring and action-packed weekend. Held September 23-25, 2016 at YMCA Geneva Park, and hosted alongside the Youth Council, teens had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities and workshops including:

  • Salamander survey
  • Primitive living and survival skills
  • Pollinators and youth action
  • Ontario’s cavity-nesting wildlife
  • Zoos and conservation
  • Honey tasting and pollinators
  • Local food and food systems
  • Strengthening Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights
  • Freshwater life
  • Medicinal plants of Ontario
  • Birds of prey
  • Emotional intelligence and youth leadership
  • Environmental campaigning

Other memorable moments included canoeing, yoga, bird watching, swimming in Lake Couchiching, and a campfire with stories and songs that brought everyone together. Leadership expert and youth advocate, Matt Tod, delivered an inspiring keynote speech. The Great Group Challenge had teams facing off in fun challenges. Lastly, each participant developed a personal action plan on pressing environmental issues at the Action Planning Forum.


  • “The summit was truly one of my best experiences. Thank you for providing the opportunity for me to have this experience to learn to make our natural world better. In return, I will do the best I can to use this new knowledge to improve not just the Owen Sound area, but maybe even improve Ontario someday.” – Erik, age 15, Bognor
  • “I always look for new ways to broaden my horizon of knowledge, therefore when given the opportunity to attend the ON Youth Summit I was ecstatic. The workshops that I chose were amazing. I gained more knowledge from each workshop from professionals in their field about conservation and sustainability. I had an absolutely wonderful experience, which shined light on different approaches to conservation and loving the organisms within.” – Karlene, age 16, Brampton
  • “Having recently moved to Canada, I am now able to enjoy a different climate, environment and wildlife. The summit was therefore, a wonderful introduction to the natural environment of Canada. I met many other young people with similar interests, had the chance to observe creatures such as snakes and salamanders up close and attend interesting workshops which were presented in an engaging manner. Thank you for the incredible opportunity.” – Sean, age 16, Peterborough

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:

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority
Bancroft Field Naturalists
Brereton Field Naturalists’ Club
Brodie Club
Carden Field Naturalists
Charleston Lake Association
Conservation Ontario
Credit Valley Conservation

Durham Region Field Naturalists
Friends of Charleston Lake Park
Friends of Mashkinonje
Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority
Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve
Halton-North Peel Naturalists
Hamilton Naturalists’ Club
Huron Fringe Field Naturalists
Kawartha Field Naturalists
Kingston Field Naturalists
Midland-Penetang Field Naturalists
Nature Guelph
Nature League – Collingwood

Nature London
North American Native Plant Society
North Durham Nature
Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority
Orillia Naturalists’ Club
Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club
Owen Sound Field Naturalists
Peterborough Field Naturalists
Port Hope Rotary Club
The Quetico Foundation
Rankin Resource Group
Saugeen Field Naturalists
South Peel Naturalists’ Club
Stratford Field Naturalists
Thickson’s Woods Land Trust
Thunder Bay Field Naturalists
The Toronto Zoo
Township of Uxbridge
Upper Ottawa Valley Nature Club
Waterloo Region Nature
Willow Beach Field Naturalists
York Environmental Stewardship
York Simcoe Naturalists

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

The Chawkers Foundation


2017 Youth Summit for Biodiversity
SAVE THE DATE: September 22-24, 2017 at YMCA Geneva Park

Please check back for updates about the 2017 Youth Summit. If you have any questions or are interested in sponsoring the event in 2017, please contact Sarah Hedges, conservation and education coordinator, at 416-444-8419 ext. 241 or sarahh@ontarionature.org.


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