This fall, the two-year term for the initial group of 10 Youth Advisory Council (YAC) members comes to a close. But before they head off to their next adventure, we asked each of them to share their parting thoughts about their YAC experience, and what they think their roles might be in conservation in the future.
Conservation is complex and driven by tremendous knowledge and dedication. I came to discover the wealth of both within DUC. DUC embraces ecosystem science and community connection, shapes policy, and brings communities together around conservation across Canada. As I continue to develop my own career in wetland science, I will integrate this new appreciation for collaboration and community connection into my work, ensuring it has meaning to all communities, scientific and beyond.
My time with the YAC has allowed me to develop a full understanding of how DUC contributes to wetland conservation and climate solutions. This experience has motivated me to continue my involvement with the organization by inspiring more young adults to learn about the benefits of wetlands. I’ll be spearheading a DUC Campus Club at Acadia University in Atlantic Canada and will remain to be a resource for students to gain access to wetlands in the future.
The YAC showed me how conservation is a broad and diversified topic. There are so many ways of improving and contributing to conservation, and there are a whole range of solutions to fight against climate change. I was impressed by the ingenious ability of wetlands to fight against invasive species. I was also surprised by DUC’s involvement in sustainable agriculture! I hope in the future to be able to apply a bit of all this knowledge and contribute as well to the changes I want to see.
As I approach the end of my undergraduate degree in environmental sciences, I feel inspired and hopeful about building a career in environmental protection. My experience with the YAC affirmed that placing value on environmental services helps incentivize conservation-oriented practices — practices that are often feared for being costlier or less effective than traditional means. I am thankful to the YAC for lifting up youth voices, and for showing me that practical, collaborative and solutions-based conservation is already happening in Canada. I can’t wait to contribute.
My journey with DUC shows that conservation and environmental sustainability come in layers. There’s a duty for all companies to aspire to net-zero operations. For all levels of government to ensure that cities are built to manage increasing floods and heatwaves caused by climate change. There is an appreciation for organizations, like DUC, who continue to advocate and take action through nature projects and wildlife protection. And individually, there’s a personal responsibility where we can choose what we consume, who we support and how we spend our time.
My experience on the Council has shown me the importance of youth to conservation. I am inspired every day by the motivation and efforts of my fellow council members to contribute to conservation. Together, we have demonstrated the power of youth in the future of conservation and that when given the opportunity, we go above and beyond to make a difference for the natural world. I hope to continue my conservation journey through research, wildlife photography, and by inspiring more youth to take action for conservation.
I have learned so much about the potential I have to grow further in the environmental field. I have been given the opportunity to explore conservation strategies from a variety of different sectors, in particular nature education. Additionally, I have acquired a newfound excitement for the potential of social media and youth networks to progress conservation efforts from across the country. I am thankful for my time on the Council and am excited to see the future of nature and wetland conservation with initiatives like this one in place.
Being a member of the Council has shown me that conservation takes on more roles than simply that of the “researcher” or the “scientist.” Conservation can be viewed through the lens of a graphic designer, a social media manager, an accountant, a farmer, and an abundance of “nontraditional” conservation roles. In the future, I want to open people’s eyes to the vast opportunities that exist for the everyday person in the realm of conservation. That, in and of itself, is conservation.
I was made aware of the amount of choice I had in working in conservation. My initial assumption was that conservation work was mostly focused on just field-based research, but there is so much more to it than that. From policy writing and advocacy to education, there are a myriad of open doors! Personally, I hope in the future to conduct research within the conservation space that focuses on environmental advocacy and preservation in urban spaces.
My role in conservation for the future is knowledge sharing and practical hands-on work. I’ve been exposed to many different activities growing up including hunting, fishing and trapping, and being part of the YAC has taught me so many different things. We learned it was much more than just saving the ducks; it is a variety of different habitat restoration projects and programs that foster relationships with stakeholders. I feel proud to be helping preserve populations and habitats of many different species, any way I can.
Are you a young person aged 18 to 25? Are you motivated to make a difference? If so, consider applying to be part of the next Youth Advisory Council! It’s an unprecedented opportunity to learn from conservation experts, develop your leadership skills and advance your knowledge of wetland science and conservation.
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