Guiding Youth Through the Credit River Watershed

Eight people posing around a fox statue.

Get Involved in Giving Back

My name is Sanda Violoni and this is my first time as a crew leader leading youth volunteers in the Conservation Youth Corps (CYC) program at Credit Valley Conservation (CVC). So far, it’s been an incredible experience! CYC is a week-long outdoor environmental program where youth volunteers tackle environmental stewardship projects at different sites in their community, our conservation areas and across the watershed.

Eight people in a stream posing for a photo
Sanda (front) with youth volunteers.

Some students join CYC with their friends and other join on their own. We love to see passionate volunteers come back for a second week and return as alumni the following year. This year’s participants have shown compassion, care, tenacity and leadership while taking on projects throughout the week.

Each day, our youth volunteers complete projects in different locations from the headwaters in Orangeville to Port Credit in Mississauga. Projects can include pulling hundreds of square metres of invasive plants, planting native wildflowers and restoring high erosion areas in urban streams.

A person holding a snake and two other people looking at it.
Everyday students discover something new, like this garter snake.

Nothing could have prepared me for the sense of accomplishment I had when my crew pulled an armful of old and broken t-bars from the stream to prevent water pollution. Or how excited youth volunteers were when they saw the impact of their efforts in a forest that was once overrun by thickets of invasive buckthorn shrubs.

Throughout the week, I see the confidence of students grow as they learn to correctly identify invasive and native species. It’s rewarding to hear them share the species they recognize in their own backyards and neighbourhoods after learning about them the previous day. Students are curious about all the things we come across such as snakes and butterflies and ask engaging questions.

Eight people in a forest posing for a photo with downed shrubs.
Student’s understanding and values about nature change after they take part in CYC and see the results of their hard work, like this pile of invasive species they removed from a forest.

Many of our youth volunteers have never had the chance to explore local natural spaces like Meadowvale, Terra Cotta or Rattray Marsh Conservation Areas. Some ask about other ways they can get involved in environmental initiatives, while others share their plans for after high school with boosted confidence and knowledge and about the conservation sector.

After 17 successful summers of running the CYC program at CVC, it’s clear youth love this program. Whether they’re earning volunteer hours, expanding their knowledge of environmental jobs and network, connecting with peers, or simply spending time outside, participants derive many benefits.

Eight people each holding a piece of paper.
Students are given a certificate of completion once they have finished their week or volunteering.

If you are a teen or know one between the ages of 14 to 18 years old, register for CYC and get on the waitlist for the last two weeks this summer! We also offer Frontline, an environmental leadership program during the school year.  For more information and to register, visit

By Sanda Violoni, CYC Crew Leader

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