I’m Derry. I’m a long-time volunteer with Credit Valley Conservation (CVC). It all started when I attended CVC’s Conservation Youth Corps in 2012, which ignited my passion for the environment. As a recent high school graduate, my goal is to pursue a postsecondary education in Environmental Science.

There are opportunities in life that can change your perspective on a topic, person, activity or problem. These experiences challenge and shape us as individuals and have the ability to impact many people. I had one such experience when CVC sponsored me for Ontario Nature’s 2015 Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership in September of 2015.

I was honoured and excited to spend a weekend in nature meeting new people. I didn’t know that I was about to learn so much about myself, environmental conservation and the beautiful natural surroundings that we often take for granted.

At the summit we heard from speakers who inspired us to take environmental action and follow their lead. Skid Crease, renowned environmental educator, discussed the impact we could have on our world. Many feel that they can’t change the world or their country by themselves, but they’re wrong. Skid talked about the power and influence a passionate and well-written letter can have on a company or a politician. Small actions that share your hopes, concerns and frustrations can have a bigger influence than you think. Grant Linney, environmental educator, taught us that it’s not enough to just want something to change – you have to do something about it. This point will stick with me for life.

Various workshops at the summit allowed me to connect with other like-minded individuals while participating in fun, eye-opening activities run by motivational speakers and environmental enthusiasts. My favourite workshop was called Earth and Water. Lorraine McRae, an advocate for healthy communities, taught us about Ojibwa culture and how everything in nature is connected – including us.

Attendees of Ontario Nature’s 2015 Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership

Attendees of Ontario Nature’s 2015 Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership

During the Youth Summit I met 98 students from all over Ontario in just two days. I learned about their goals, life passions and beliefs. I made some amazing friendships that will last a lifetime. I gained confidence and knowledge that I can use every day to take action for a cause that I believe in. It gave me the opportunity to network with professionals in various environmental fields and other like-minded individuals who have a passion for preserving our planet. This experience will always have a special place in my heart and has definitely changed my life for the better.

Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about is one of the most rewarding experiences around. Learn about all the volunteer opportunities CVC has to offer.

6 Comment
  • Deborah Martin-Downs says:

    Derry – thank you so much for all that you have done with the Credit and for sharing your story with others. I am so glad you have found something that ignites passion in you. I have been working in the environmental field for over 35 years because someone helped me ignite that passion in high school. We need more inspired young people to help protect and manage the Credit. I hope we will have a long relationship together – and bring some of your friends along too!

  • Sarah Hedges says:

    Derry, thank you for sharing this lovely account of your experience at the Youth Summit. It means so much to me and the team at Ontario Nature that the program has had such an impact on you. I hope to see you and other CVC volunteers out at this year’s summit! And keep up the great work!

  • Olga Lukich says:

    Well-written, inspiring and insightful. You’re a great advocate for the environment, the benefits of volunteering and the need to take action if you want change.

    I really enjoyed reading about your experience!

  • Mary Bracken says:

    Way to go Derry! This experience left a great impression on you, just like my years at CVC did on me. Love your passion!

  • Leanne Wallis says:

    Derry- What a great story and so wonderful to hear that you have decided to pursue a career in Environmental Science! It was so fantastic to have you job-shadow my biological inventory crew at CVC for a week, and I look forward to hearing more about your experiences in the future. Passion is contagious! Good work!

  • Larissa Schiffmann says:

    Derry – way to go! I’m so glad that you were able to attend this life changing summit – not only because you deserve the opportunity, but because I know you’ll take the passion and knowledge gained from experiences like this and put it all to excellent use! Keep being awesome – I’ll see you in the great outdoors, I’m sure!

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