My CYC Experience – Youth Connecting with Nature

Guest Blog by Cailyn, CYC Frontline student

Cailyn is a grade 12 student and a dedicated volunteer with a passion for the environment. In 2018, she participated in CVC’s Conservation Youth Corps (CYC) program. Soon after her experience with CYC she joined CVC’s environmental leadership program, Frontline. Cailyn has been a dedicated member of Frontline since 2018.

I’ve been passionate about the environment ever since I was in grade two. I was a member of my elementary school’s first-ever green team. I had been passively exercising my passion for the environment until I learned about CVC in grade 10. That’s when I saw a presentation about climate change by CVC’s Conservation Youth Corp (CYC) program staff. I was inspired to join CYC, CVC’s summer volunteer program. And as luck would have it, it was the presenter at my school who became my crew leader.

Since getting involved with CVC, I took every opportunity to volunteer and connect with other youth. I joined the Frontline program to continue my involvement with CVC after the summer. That’s how I heard about the Ontario Nature Youth Summit held this past September.

At the weekend summit, I took part in workshops with experts in different fields that gave us a deeper understanding of our connection to nature. The weekend started at 9 a.m. with a man named Skid Crease. He’s one-of-a-kind and I doubt I’ll ever meet anyone else like him again! His workshop taught us to look at the world and be amazed at everything we see, no matter how many times we’d seen it before. He really appealed to my child-like curiosity and taught us to truly appreciate nature and what it can offer. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

The other workshops were equally fulfilling. I learned about traditional medicine, how birds interact with their environment and what this means to scientists and how to be a leader in my community.

My last workshop was definitely the most unique. University professor Josh Feltham taught us how to tell a story by connecting science and art through a single photograph. He showed how this approach can contribute to the conversation and fight against climate change. This workshop really changed my perspective on photography, one of my favorite hobbies. The most important thing I took with me was that you don’t need a megaphone to share your voice – all you need is a photograph.

 

The summit ended with a keynote presentation that ignited our passion to take action. It reminded us to make our voices heard about issues that many people say we’re too lazy, too young or too naïve to understand. We were told that we really have nothing to lose even when we think we do. Simply calling attention to something you care about can make a world of difference.

I want to thank CVC for sponsoring me to attend the Ontario Nature Youth Summit. It was a truly moving experience that changed the way I think about nature, myself and other human beings. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity without my volunteer involvement with CVC.

CVC’s youth volunteer programs have helped me gain experience in the career I hope to pursue in the future, as well as feed my curiosity. The program also helps keep youth engaged with our community and local ecosystems. Programs like this keep teens interested in the outdoors and learning about the world around them. And in my case, it helped motivate me to pursue other opportunities for youth engagement in the environment going forward.

To learn more about CVC’s Youth Programs, visit cvc.ca/cyc

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