Coming into the weekend, I wasn’t sure how much 3 days could help open my eyes to all of the environmental issues surrounding me every day. However, the summit did much more than that. It left me with 100 incredible new friends, an unforgettable experience, and a burning desire to create positive environmental change within my community.
The first thing I noticed after stepping off of the bus was being welcomed by enthusiastic Youth Council members and chaperones excited for the amazing weekend ahead. It was incredibly inspiring to witness leaders from all walks of life being brought together through a common love and passion for protecting nature and the environment. Being in such a motivating atmosphere sparked a passion within me to learn more about the importance of protecting biodiversity, and taught me how to use that passion to create real change.
From the late-night campfires to the early morning birding hikes, every part of the summit made me fall in love with the nature around me. The insightful workshops, keynote speakers, and networking sessions exposed me to the various ways in which I could help conservation efforts. Whether it’s becoming involved in Ontario Nature’s Youth Council or making simple sustainable changes to my everyday life, I learned that there is something that everyone can do to help.
Everyone came to the Summit with their own story about what motivated them to fight to protect the environment. Coming to the Youth Summit and becoming a part of the Ontario Nature Youth Council was simply the beginning of my story. Everyone’s path to becoming environmentally aware is different, and that’s the beauty of it all. It’s never too late to start, and there is no limit to what you can accomplish once you do.
Raj Zala is a member of the Ontario Nature Youth Council and is a student at the University of Waterloo. He is currently studying Nanotechnology Engineering, and aims to use various applications of nanotechnology in renewable energy to aid in creating positive environmental change.