Shelby Kutyn: An Artist, Environmentalist and Young Woman for Nature
Shelby Kutyn is a Young Women for Nature mentee, and a student at the University of Victoria, where she will be completing the final year of her Bachelors of Science degree, with a double major in Marine Biology and Earth and Ocean Sciences. She is spending this summer working as a research assistant at an oyster aquaculture farm, where her research focusses on tracking environmental patterns that will enable them to predict when Vibrio parahaemolyticus outbreaks will occur, thus helping reduce the risk of sickness from eating oysters.
Having grown up on Vancouver Island, and surrounded by nature, pinpointing a specific moment when she realized her love for nature was difficult. Shelby spent much of her childhood camping, visiting parks such as Goldstream Park during the salmon spawn and exploring the great diversity of beaches on the Island. She says that these childhood experiences are “what drove me to pursue biology, and more specifically marine biology in school. I want to be a marine biologist because I love the ocean and I want to contribute to restoring it to its historical health.”
Shelby first became involved with Nature after her supervisor at Science Venture mentioned the Women for Nature mentorship initiative.
At the time she was a science instructor with Science Venture, which a non-profit organization that delivers hands-on science workshops and camps for youth. Every week, Shelby would teach STEM to a girls club for students that flourished in non-traditional school settings. This presented Shelby with the opportunity to run hands-on experiments and activities with them, thus facilitating learning that was experiential.
Being involved in the Young Women for Nature mentorship initiative turned the tables on Shelby, and was, as she puts it “inspiring, and thought-provoking.” Her mentor Stephanie Foster provided help whenever she needed, shared her perspective on environmental work from the consulting side, and connected her with other women who are pursuing research in areas of study related to marine biology.
Shelby has felt the positive impact of this mentorship on her life – one that she aims to carry in her future endeavors as an environmentalist. While completing her BSc. Degree with a double major in Marine Biology and Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria, she will also be working toward environmental conservation and awareness through her artwork. She says that her work
“Focuses on animals that are native to the BC coast and those that are endangered. By showing the intrinsic beauty of these animals in their natural habitats I hope to make people aware of the environmental threats these animals face and inspire people to take action and speak out for these animals’ rights.”
She sells prints and originals of paintings and donates part of the proceeds to non-profit organizations to help fund research, media campaigns, and other initiatives that work towards saving our environment and the biodiversity it contains.