A Young Leader for Nature: Caroline Merner
This blog was written by Julie Lopez, the Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada.
Having moved to the West Coast of Canada, Caroline Merner was immersed in nature from an early age, and has been so for the entirety of her life. Her childhood spent playing outside with her three sisters grew into a passion for hiking, cycling, and camping.
Traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast for her post-secondary studies at Dalhousie University, Caroline completed her Bachelor of Arts with Combined Honours in Sustainability and International Development with a Minor in Spanish. Now, her everyday commute to work is one that might cause envy – a 45-minute bike ride with ocean views that bring her to Stanley Park, Vancouver, where she works at Ocean Wise.
A Young Woman for Nature
Since graduating, Caroline has been inspiring youth with her passion for nature through her work with Parks Canada, Students on Ice, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Ocean Wise, and with her non-profit, Climate Guides.
Speaking to Caroline was nothing short of inspiring – the combination of her evident and honest love for nature, with her fast-growing list of accomplishments, topped with her passion for engaging with others made me look at my notes and think “Well, this is exactly what nature in Canada needs.”
Caroline is a Young Woman for Nature and one of six recipients of the Young Nature Leadership Grant. For Caroline, being a Young Woman for Nature has meant empowering young women, helping them find their connection to nature and harnessing that to share it with others.
In October of 2017 Caroline was able to meet the other Young Women for Nature at the Women for Nature reception held on Parliament Hill on October 23, 2017. She mentioned how she left the event feeling inspired by the “cohort of change-makers, of people who want to protect our lands and who are taking amazing strides in the protection of our environment.”
Of the experience, Caroline said that “Being a Young Woman for Nature comes with action for those who are connected to nature and want to conserve it. They are naturally sustainability-driven.”
And naturally sustainability-driven are three words that begin to provide an appropriate description for how Caroline’s environmental endeavors have been shaping up over the past few years, and have led to her very own non-profit: Climate Guides.
Climate Guides is a mentorship program connecting youth and professionals to address climate change by developing solutions together.
Trying to paint a picture for how Climate Guides came to be pulls from various experiences:
From a lifetime of hiking and camping, to the completion of a thesis on the psychology of climate change communication, to meeting her co-director Marina Melanidis on an Arctic expedition, to receiving seed funding through the Young Nature Leadership Grant and mentorship from another Woman for Nature – the road to Climate Guides was built on Caroline’s passion for nature and desire to create a community.
Caroline stated that “When people start to get involved in this work, they encourage other people to become engaged, wanting to be a connector – that [is] where community happens.”
And Climate Guides will be doing just that by giving ten young mentees the opportunity to launch their environmentally inspired projects. Each mentee is matched to an appropriate mentor, launching projects that will potentially change Vancouver, BC, and Canada. Climate Guides hopes to become a sustainable system of environmental growth and innovation that expands across Canada, and around the world.
Right Now, and Moving Forward
The launch of Climate Guides’ first mentorship cohort takes place on Saturday, April 7, 2018. The event is will gather 10 mentors and 10 mentees. We can anticipate many inspiring stories from the inaugural round of Climate Guides projects on social media.
Later in September, Climate Guides will be attending the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. This conference will bring people together from around the world to showcase climate action and inspire deeper commitments. Climate Guides are planning on getting there the same way Caroline gets to work every day – by bike.
We are looking forward to hearing more about Caroline and Climate Guides. As a writer, this has been one of my favourite pieces to put together. This is not only because Caroline shared her fascinating adventure in sustainability, but also for the positivism with which she approaches climate change, and for the brightness of the future we will all share, because of people like her.
Caroline Merner is a Young Women for Nature who first became involved with Nature Canada after the 2017 Canadian Parks Conference in Banff National Park, Alberta. At this event, she heard Dawn Carr, Women of Nature and Project Leader Executive Director of the Canadian Parks Council, speak of the Young Nature Leadership Grant. Caroline would later became one of the six grant recipients in 2017. For more information about the Young Nature Leader Grant, please follow this link.