To date, hundreds of people have joined events that young nature lovers have organized with the support of Ontario Nature, such as Our Special Spaces, and contributed to conservation areas in their communities. Participating in pollinator habitat creation, tree planting events, removing litter, supporting the building of trails in natural spaces, and creating medicine or food gardens are just a few of the past events that we have hosted around the province.
If you’re interested in leading conservation events in your community, here’s a basic guide based on our experiences:
Determine event details What are the needs of your community? What would you like to work on, and what is possible in the community? Are there people that can help you plan your event?
Connect with potential partners and speakers Watch for other organizations that may already be hosting a similar event that you could partner on or support will help you reach a larger audience. Take some time to find out what resources are available and needed (e.g., What plants are available, when can they be delivered or picked up? Is fundraising necessary? Are garbage bags needed for a cleanup?).
Find a place to host your event When doing this, it’s important to consider any legal or property regulations. For example, Youth Circle for Mother Earth Coordinating Circle member Vamika was planning a pollinator-friendly traditional medicine garden with the York Region Food Network, who had raised garden beds at their food hub in need of plants. Permission from the owner was needed before planting. Always consider any due diligence that might have to be done before the event can be confirmed.
Set a timeline, including date of event, and back up dates As Outkast sings, “You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather, Ms. Jackson”. What needs to be in place before the event? What materials do partners and participants have to bring? Are there informational brochures you can share?
Promote your event Create a poster, share on social media or connect with your networks and school community – especially if volunteer hours are available for high school students! If there is limited space available for the event, consider an online registration form to keep track of numbers.
Prepare for the event Have all your announcements handy, and breakdown roles with event partners. Are there waiver forms folks have to sign for having their photos taken? Who is bringing what to event day? Does everyone have the information they need to get to the event (i.e., map of location, event contact, directions, timing and on-site facilities)?
Host the event and have fun! Giving back to the land, getting your hands in the dirt, and supporting the community’s needs will be a good time. Take photos, too!
Evaluate, reflect and say thank you Take some time to celebrate and share your accomplishments. If possible, seek feedback from your volunteers and partners to know what went well and what could be improved. Don’t forget to thank them for their support. Reflecting on your role will help you become a better event leader for next time.
Of course the event is your own, so plan one based on your passions and what’s available!
To stay up to date with what Ontario Nature’s youth leaders are planning, please visit the events calendar: ontarionature.org/events.
Thank you to York Region GAP Fund and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for their continued support for youth stewardship events across Ontario!
The Youth Circle for Mother Earth initiative has been made possible by the Government of Canada, Ontario Power Generation and the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.
Aryan Gautam is an Ontario Nature Youth Council member residing in Mississauga, Ontario. He is the youngest founder and director of a federally incorporated environmental non-profit organization in Canada named Save the Planet – Open Doors. He is also the Youth Director of Mississauga Climate Action, Administrative member of the Mississauga-Lakeshore Constituency Youth Council. Aryan has dedicated 11,000 volunteer hours working with many organizations and people to cast a change in his community; devoting his time in spreading awareness towards climate change, philanthropy and environmentalism.