Summer is here and the Youth Council and Youth Circle for Mother Earth members are busy planning for the annual Youth Summit in the fall. As a graduating high school student who has experienced both an in-person and a virtual Youth Summit, I will share some of my highlights from both:
Easy Application Process
Since my first summit, Ontario Nature has made it extremely accessible to attend, both financially and transportation-wise. The first time I applied to the Youth Summit in 2019, I had no experience writing applications, nor did I need it. Both years, I simply reached out to Ontario Nature, filled out the 10-minute form and they matched me with sponsors! From there, you can take the (free) Youth Summit school bus to the in-person location, or if it is online, just hop onto your computer and enjoy learning from the comfort of your own bed.
In-person Youth Summit Highlights
My first year taking part in the Youth Summit was in-person for the summit’s tenth year! Every day was so exciting and jam-packed full of activities that often went into the night! Many of my favourite memories occurred in the evening, from stargazing to night-hiking to campfire stories. Despite not knowing anybody when I first stepped off the bus, by the end of the weekend, I made so many incredible friends.
Virtual YSME Highlights
The next year in 2020, the entire summit was virtual, but that didn’t stop me from learning! Workshops about Indigenous knowledge, youth climate action and mental health all kept me excited and ready for the next session. My favourite workshop was one about the sport of lacrosse and its significance for Indigenous communities. In between online sessions, I took part in nature challenges through exploring nature near home, ate wild rice and planted pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds that was sent to participants in the mail!
If you are a nature enthusiast between 14 and 20 years old, I hope reading about some of my highlights from previous Youth Summits encourages you to apply, and if you don’t qualify, please share this blog with someone who might be interested!
This year’s Youth Summit coming up soon. I look forward to connecting with like-minded youth across the province.
The 2021 Youth Summit for Mother Earth will be held as a series of online and offline events, with key events happening on September 25 and 26, 2021, and a follow-up virtual event in October. Four partners (Ontario Nature, the Indigenous Environmental Institute at Trent University, Plenty Canada and Walpole Island Land Trust) are working alongside the Youth Council and Youth Circle for Mother Earth to offer a unique cross-cultural virtual event planned with an ambitious goal of engaging 200 young people aged 14 – 20.
The summit will feature workshops, speakers, and plenty of virtual group activities and “challenges” to get participants outdoors in their own communities like nature scavenger hunts and connecting with the land through art. Youth will receive a package in the mail containing resources and tools to develop their cross-cultural literacy and take meaningful environmental action in their community.
You can also visit our Youth Summit webpage for more information. Sponsorships are available. If you have any questions about the Youth Summit or interested in supporting the event, please reach out to Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-440-2366 ext. 244.
Sidney Shaw resides on the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Huron-Wendat, or Markham, and has been a member of the Ontario Nature Youth Council since 2019. Sidney is heavily involved in the environmental movement in their community from leading their school’s Environmental Council and organizing a community repair café. Sidney’s commitment to their community is the reason they have been selected as a recipient of the 2021 Loran Award, and one of Starfish Canada’s Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 for 2020. They are also interested in agriculture and film and in their free time, Sidney likes reading, gardening and walking.