New government-funded program hopes to inspire youth environmental activism

volunteering, charity, people and ecology concept - group of youth volunteers hands planting tree seedling in park Photo by Syda Productions/Shutterstock

You need look no further than Greta Thunberg to see how influential young people can be in regards to environmental activism. It’s no surprise then that the Canadian Wildlife Federation, with funding from government of Canada, is launching WILD Outside, a national youth program aimed at Canadians aged 15 to 18 to encourage them to develop their own conservation ethics and to jumpstart community-based projects in their area.

Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities such as: shoreline cleanups; invasive species removal; trail maintenance; building and installing wildlife habitats; tree planting; and planting community/pollinator gardens. Registrants will also be able to take part in hiking, fishing, rock climbing, outdoor cooking, nature walks, and canoeing/kayaking.

Beginning this month, you can find WILD Outside programs launching in Halifax, Charlottetown, Calgary, and Toronto, and programs in Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Winnipeg, St. John’s, Simcoe County, Moncton, Regina, Saskatoon, and Edmonton launching in April. Future plans are also being made for programs in Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Iqaluit, Quebec City, Victoria, and Southern Alberta.

Anyone in the designated age group is eligible to apply for the program, which will require approximately 120 hours of commitment across the calendar year (hours which count towards high school volunteer requirements). Those under 18 will require parental permission to participate, but fear not, parents (sorry kids), the program won’t interfere with school schedules.

The goal of the program is to inspire youth participants to develop an appreciation for the environment and wildlife and to deepen their relationship with the natural world by connecting them to ongoing conservation in their own community. Those who take part are eligible for incentives throughout the program, such as a certificate upon completion. Participation also counts towards other youth initiatives, such as the Duke of Edinburgh award. More information and the registration form can be found here.

WILD Outside is the newest program under Canada Service Corps, an initiative announced in January 2018, which encourages volunteer service among Canadians aged 18 to 30.

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