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Women for Nature – Cara MacMillan
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Women for Nature – Cara MacMillan

Featuring Women for Nature member Cara MacMillan. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Tracey Mosley.

T: What inspires you to your work and life?  Were there childhood experiences or interests which have stayed with you into adult life? 

C: As a proud Canadian, I am glad to be a citizen of a country which tries to be respectful.   I am in awe of the power of nature. I was quite young when I read “Roughing it in the Bush” by Suzanna Moodie for the first time.  Recalling that story of people coming to Canada with nothing allows me to reflect on the importance of community especially when we live in a country where nature is so expansive.

I was the kid who often brought home wounded animals.  I can still recall rescuing a turtle, a frog and several birds.  I never wanted to keep them.  I wanted to heal and release them.  As a child, I lived near an acreage of marshland.   Walking through it, I always found that there was something needing care. The marshland has long been developed into a shopping mall. I remember watching the front end loader demolish the creek and I wanted to do something. I promised myself that one day I would.

[caption id="attachment_41760" align="alignnone" width="179"] Women for Nature
member Cara MacMillan[/caption]

Those early experiences inspired me to work with companies that are passionate about adapting to climate change in the belief that environmental stewardship and social justice has the potential to reverse the negative effects of that change.

T: If you were to be remembered for something, what would it be?

I am very proud that my husband and I can see a personal legacy in our children, who have grown up committed to follow their own unique mission.  We are pleased that they have developed their own intentions to give back to the world.

Professionally, I am proud that my company Halcyon Consulting Group became a Certified B Corporation in July of 2017. B Corps is an international community of leaders who seek to use their businesses for social and environmental good.   Those who accept B Corps certification do so knowing that they can be scrutinized to ensure they meet the standards of the certification, with observers able to vote on whether we meet those standards.  I am pleased to say that Halcyon has received high votes for “economic empowerment for the underserved” as well as “civic engagement and giving”.

T: You have an interest in the wellbeing of the Canadian environment as the home of First Nations who live on the land. Can you share how this interest has helped shape your personal or professional development?

In 2016, I drove almost 8 hours, by myself, to reach the Cree Nation of Waswanapi to deliver blankets, quilts, clothes, toys, craft supplies, household linens and art, donated by St Maurice Catholic Church in Ottawa.  I fell in love our northern landscape.

I observed a serenity and joy in the Waswanapi community elders that I had never before seen in any person.  One of the leaders of the community cooked a moose heart stew to celebrate Moose Week. I am a vegetarian but I have to say it was of the best meals that I have ever eaten. The Cree respect the moose in a way that we have lost.  I lost my way by referring to “natural resources” instead of “nature”.

I believe that we in the urban south have a moral responsibility to invite our First Nations women leaders to the table; to give them a voice and a network. Together we can build an interdependent Canada.

T: Given that the mission of Women for Nature is, “To protect and conserve wildlife and habitats in Canada by engaging people and advocating on behalf of nature”; what personal values do you draw upon in approaching that mission?

C: I try to live by three rules that I have taught my children:  respect yourself; respect each other; and respect what we have been blessed with. If you respect yourself, you will take care of yourself and that which nurtures you. If you respect each other, you will be able to hear a quiet voice coming from the distance. You will speak out when someone is poisoning your water source or hurting someone else. If you respect what we have been blessed with, you will take note of your place in nature.  We each need to speak up and be accountable for the earth we share.

T: Who were your mentors?  What education or experiential choices did you make as you developed career goals? 

C: When I was a young adult, I believed that career was fluid.  I began my career in the mailroom of IBM, where I quickly learned that I would have to gain more education if I wanted to progress.  I was able to transfer to a research and development lab, where I loved to listen to and speak with the scientists who worked there. It was so many years ago, but those scientists were already concerned with the environmental impact of electronics and the environmental impact of the end-life of computers.  That was 25 years ago! The scientists sparked my love of learning. My commitment to lifelong learning brought me to a MBA and now my DBA. My research and work is in strategy and innovation.

Ann Dale, our Women for Nature co-chair, is my mentor.   Ann is a Dean and Professor at Royal Roads University, researching and teaching in the area of environment and sustainability. 

T: Can you reflect on lessons learned or problems solved that you can see might be the basis of guidance for young women? Have you any specific suggestions for how young women can keep from feeling defeated?

C: We need to recognize that we benefit and learn as much from the mentoring process as do those whom we mentor.  I learned by observing Waswanapi elders who guided, but did not seek to control. If we want to be guides we need to respect the spark inside each other. We need to commit to never diminish each other’s spark as we guide and work together.

Everyone has dreams, regardless of status and background, and everyone is told “No.”  So you have the choice to respect yourself or fail.  You may have been given a dream because the world needs you to act on it.  If you walk away from your dream, we all lose.

Women for Nature – Elizabeth Kilvert
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Women for Nature – Elizabeth Kilvert

Featuring Women for Nature member and business owner of The Unrefined Olive, Elizabeth Kilvert. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese.

Sharolyn:You are currently the successful business owner of The Unrefined Olive stores in Ottawa, but you came from a diverse background of international development studies, natural history museums, marine biology, organic agriculture, sustainable fisheries, and Environment Canada.  How did such a diverse experience coalesce to sell olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and specialty foods?

Elizabeth: I have always had a passion for food but I wanted my business to be rooted in my core values as well. I wanted to sell products that were sustainable, nutritious, delicious, fair and equitable to the farmer; and food that was not harmful to the environment.

Elizabeth Kilvert

I was working for Environment Canada when I took the leap six years ago. I was passionate about that too; but when you see government policy contravening with what you hold dear, how can you work for an institution that doesn’t resonate with what you believe in. When you go into business for yourself, you can align your beliefs and values with your actions. 

S: And now you’re really enjoying what you’re doing.

E:I do.  I feel very enriched by my business.  It reflects my values of giving, sustainability, biodiversity, and compassion; and we are fortunate because these are also the types of customers we attract. I also get to engage with individuals and organizations in our community. People are looking for more transparency when buying products and they are looking for sustainable business practices.

S: How do you include sustainability in your business practice?

E: We use recycled paper packaging, almost no plastics, and a local potter makes our dishware. Our furnishings are made from ash wood from trees that were felled by the Emerald Ash Borer beetle.

S:  Why was it important for you to have "unrefined” in your store’s name? What were you trying to tell your customers?

E: Unrefined means unprocessed, which is better in the food world. We only carry Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil and never an olive oil over a year old. All of our olive oils are third party tested and I have done training to recognize taste profiles and faults in olive oil.

S: What is the added value?

E: Studies have shown that up to 75% of olive oil is rancid, expired, and blended with other nut and seed oils. Olives are a stone fruit, like a peach, and should be pressed when at a certain ripeness and ideally within hours of picking. When the olives are too ripe or have been sitting around too long before they go to the mill; the oil that is made smells and tastes awful.

S: Should we care about our food in terms of how it is grown, and processed before we eat it?

E: Absolutely.  Look at the rates of diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cancer. We are a society full of inflammatory diseases as well. When we invest in good food we invest in our health, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, and a sound economy. We also satiate ourselves without snacking and lead healthier lives. Health and nutrition go together and should be a major investment of our monetary budgets. Food can promote healing and disease prevention. It is also the way we socialize, comfort ourselves, entertain, and express ourselves. Good quality ingredients are as different as eating a grocery tomato in January and a freshly picked one from the garden in the summer.  It’s a completely different experience.

S: Why is it worthwhile to buy quality food as a consumer?

E: We all choose where we want to put our money.  Investing in Farmers Markets, local shops, local producers, farmers, butchers, bakers, and cheese makers [...] is investing in sound agricultural practices, food that is nutritious, and producers who are employing people locally.  You are voting for a sustainable economy. 

S:How did you come to appreciate Nature? 

E: I’m from Halifax. I grew up on a dead end street surrounded by a lake. There was also a bog and a stream. I grew up being outside, paddling canoes, and catching frogs. It was always a struggle to get us kids inside.  My parents were also active outside. We would go cross-country skiing, skating, walking in the woods, hiking, spending lots of time on the beach; and they were big gardeners.

S: Why did you choose to become a "Woman for Nature"

 E: I spend the majority of my time working in, and on, my business; in the food world, with my business community, with my industry, and with organizations in the community where I live and beyond. I have always taken a multi-disciplinary approach and wanted to connect with a broader circle of academics, politicians, artists, business and non-governmental leaders in the environmental and biodiversity field. I also want to connect and demonstrate how small business has a role to play in leadership through best practices, the social economy, and industry standards in the environmental and biodiversity realm. That is why I chose to become a Woman for Nature.

Making your own suet for birds this winter!
Photo by Barb D'Arpino
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Making your own suet for birds this winter!

Making your own suet for the birds visiting your backyard during winter is a wonderful way to stay connected to nature while still staying warm! This is a simple way to provide another food source for birds to help them out during the long and cold Canadian winters." Below is a simple recipe for suet that will bring feathered friends to your NatureHood! Note that the temperature needs to be cold enough so that suet does not melt.

Simple Suet Recipe for Wintering Birds

Ingredients

2/3 cup coconut oil 2/3 cup black oil sunflower seeds 3 tbsp peanut butter with no salt added 3 tbsp cornmeal

Oats, corn kernels, peanuts out of the shell, and unsalted almond butter can also be added to the mixture.

1) Melt the coconut oil on a saucepan over low heat. 2) Add peanut butter, stir well until blended 3) Turn off stove, add other ingredients and mix well 4) Pour into a low profile pan 5) Once suet is cooled down, cut into cakes that will fit suet feeder 6) Wrap cakes individually to store in freezer.

Et voila! Enjoy the company of nature from the comfort of your home! To learn more about the birds that stay in our backyards over winter, check out our Winter Birds e-Book today!

Interview of Dr. Brenda Kenny, Co-chair of Women for Nature
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Interview of Dr. Brenda Kenny, Co-chair of Women for Nature

[caption id="attachment_36747" align="alignleft" width="150"] Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese[/caption] Featuring Women for Nature member Dr. Brenda Kenny, Co-chair of Women for Nature. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Sharolyn Mathieu Vitesse. Sharolyn (S):  When reading about your outstanding accomplishments, and then when listening to you talk, you come across as someone who is down-to-earth, open, and inclusive, but I was intrigued when you mentioned that when working cooperatively, all boats rise with the tide.  How did you reach that conclusion? Brenda (B):  The opposite of that saying is the tall poppies syndrome where people are hesitant to speak out because they will be cut to size. In my experience, you get better end-results when listening to all interested parties.  There are some people who are really feisty with social activism – I’m not against that – but it doesn’t solve the problem.  We need a good way to work together, and challenge assumptions to get to what everybody wants to accomplish. [caption id="attachment_38071" align="alignright" width="300"] "Nature's future, our future, requires us to collaborate, innovate, and lead. We are working together to sustain biodiversity and heart-felt connection to nature across our great country." Dr. Brenda Kenny, pictured above, and Professor Ann Dale, Co-Chairs of Women for Nature.[/caption] S:  Can you give an example? B:  There is a group called the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) in Alberta.  It is consensus based and when it started, there were those who wanted zero emissions, and on the other hand were the emitting facilities saying that they would if they could, but the technology didn’t exist to do that.  What was actually achieved was a 65% reduction in 10 years by understanding all affected parties’ positions.  It depends on how you look at the numbers.  Look at costs and opportunities in different ways, and see ways to get there, including good regulation. What happened was that the government used the CASA targets to set clean air standards. This mandated companies to adopt the new technology to meet the new standard which resulted in energy reductions, reduced emissions, and operating savings. These are all positive impacts.  Some companies took it further, and are looking at opportunities to save money and reduce environmental impacts with waste recovery projects, and to sell the generated energy to the grid.  It goes to show how important it is to have open dialogues because how we get to the solutions is often not a straight line. S:  Has there been a cultural shift towards climate change? B: Yes, there has been a tipping point. Companies are signing on, and there are many, many willing partners.  Companies like Suncor and NAL Resources Management, which is owned by Manulife, are adopting new technologies to improve their extraction and business practices.  It is a very exciting time.  We can do things smarter as we transition away from high emissions to low emissions.  Less coal and fossil fuel and more renewable energy like wind and solar, is a big shift.  Also, improvements are a huge opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in new and unexpected ways. I think Canada is well-positioned and can have a huge role to help other countries be cleaner, and more efficient as well. S: You broke through the glass ceiling when you became the past president of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) for eight years.  What was that like? B:  I didn’t feel like I was breaking down barriers at the time.  I found it was crucial to have a woman’s voice at a senior level at a time when there were crucial discussions about environment and pipelines.  In that capacity, I travelled the country and met a lot of people to advance the national interest, safety, and environment.  It was a great time to be involved because the industry wanted to do more.  My leadership style is cooperative, so I enjoyed it at that time, as difficult as it was.  My approach was to focus on the outcome, and not on the dogma. [caption id="attachment_38015" align="alignleft" width="300"] Dr. Brenda Kenny thanks Women for Nature members at Parliamentary Reception.[/caption] S: As a pathfinder in a male dominated field, what advice would you have for women who want to follow in your footsteps? B:  My advice to young women is to never follow the career path that others set for you.  Only pursue what you want to do, and apply that because it will be a good fit for you.  Know yourself.  Don’t drift into something, but be where you want to put your heart, mind, and time.  If you want to live in a way that you can make a difference about what you care about, then you had better know what you are trying to do.  You may not meet your goal, but if it is a worthy cause, then it is time well spent. To be successful, you have to have the tools to be successful, but don’t fall into the women’s trap.  What that is, is when a job is posted, a man will apply and say, “I can learn”, whereas a woman will say, “I will learn first, and then I can apply”.  You need to be capable and ready for the challenge, but knowing that things are not going to be perfect. S:  Pipelines and oil companies are not known to care about loss of habitat, or their effects on the environment, and yet you care passionately about nature.  How were you able to connect the two? B:  I’ve asked this question many times.  I can’t back away from this.  2/3 of energy use is fossil based.  We are transitioning, and doing it quickly but we still need energy here, and energy needs are growing abroad.   It is about having the best possible protection for the environment while providing the product and services people need.  I’d rather be inside the circle, and having an impact to do that.  I care deeply about environment as do many in industry.  I know that standing outside of industry doesn’t have the same impact.  Having said that, it is important to actively bridge different viewpoints.  I try to look for the variances that will move things forwards.  Sometimes it is like being a conductor.  All I know is that we get smarter, better, and faster when working as a team.  For example, about 7-8 years ago, the pipeline industry started working cooperatively with each other regarding safety in the industry.  It was super powerful, but it happened by changing the whole conversation. S:  How do you view Women for Nature? B:  We are like Team Canada!  We have a diverse group of women from across Canada with a common interest, which is Nature. We have the network, and the passion If we want Canada to be great, we shouldn’t throw away what makes us Canadian.


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Shelby Kutyn: An Artist, Environmentalist and Young Woman for Nature
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Shelby Kutyn: An Artist, Environmentalist and Young Woman for Nature

[caption id="attachment_37466" align="alignleft" width="150"] Julie Lopez, Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada.[/caption] This blog was written by Julie Lopez, the Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada. 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.


Nature Canada would like to thank the Women for Nature members for generously supporting this mentorship pilot.


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Olivia DesRoches: A Young Woman For Nature
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Olivia DesRoches: A Young Woman For Nature

[caption id="attachment_37466" align="alignleft" width="150"] Julie Lopez, Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada.[/caption] This blog post was written by Julie Lopez, the Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada. Olivia DesRoches is a Young Woman for Nature, and a Grade 12 student at Hampton High School who first became involved with Nature Canada after receiving the Young Nature Leadership Grant, and then as a Women for Nature mentee. The Young Nature Leadership Grant was awarded to Olivia for a project that her grade 11 Math class was hoping to get off the ground. Last Spring, after watching the documentary Before the Flood, Olivia and her classmates were motivated to do something that would help them and their community reduce their environmental impact. Together, they decided to build a greenhouse at their school.


Evidently, such a project required a significant amount of funding, and as such, Olivia set out to find ways to fund the project. The first grant for which she applied, and later received, was the Young Nature Leadership Grant with Nature Canada. Being the first scholarship the group received, it served as the starting point that legitimized their project, and helped them begin to move forward. After receiving the Nature Canada grant on Earth Day, in April of 2017, the students spent the remainder of the school year and summer working together to raise funds through the community and local businesses. Come September, the project was fully funded. Planning for the greenhouse began in September of 2017, and the construction began soon after a groundbreaking ceremony for the greenhouse held in New Brunswick, to which the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, and Nature Canada's Board of Directors, including a few Women For Nature members, attended. Since then, groups of students aged between nine and eighteen years  old have been working on the greenhouse. Two to three times a week after school, sometimes pulling classes to help with various parts of the construction, the students worked to get the greenhouse standing and airtight (protected from the elements) before the first snowfall, then began again after the weather started to ‘let up’ near the end of February. Olivia’s love for nature and dedication to the planet is evident from her hard work and initiative. She said that spending time at summer camp as a camper and then counselor for the past five summers solidified her love for spending time in nature, and appreciation for the environment. Going further than an average nature lover, and as a Young Woman for Nature and Young Nature Leadership Grant recipient, Olivia was flown out to Ottawa in November 2017 for the Nature Canada: Women for Nature Parliamentary reception. There she was able to speak with other Young Women for Nature and Women for Nature, and present her project to Parks Canada. She also met with Senator Griffin, who is the Honorary Chair of Women for Nature and Olivia's local MP as well. She said that being able to attend the reception was one of the most defining experiences of this entire project. To “be in a room with people my own age and women, and to have similar mindsets and similar goals was really empowering.” Olivia is set to graduate from high school in the coming weeks, and to attend St Thomas University in Fredericton to pursue a Bachelor of Arts double major in Political Science and Psychology in the fall of 2018. Despite not pursuing a degree specific to environmental sciences, her experience as a Young Woman for Nature was encouraging because it enabled her to meet other women, and “hear their stories and [see that] so many of them didn’t have an environmental science degree […] and found ways to incorporate their love for nature into what they’re doing professionally.” The Hampton High School greenhouse is anticipated to open its doors this summer. We are excited to see the how the Greenhouse will grow throughout its first year, and the continuous growth that will be part of its many years to come.

Nature Canada would like to thank the Women for Nature members for generously supporting this mentorship pilot.


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Melissa Cusack Striepe: A Young Woman for Nature
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Melissa Cusack Striepe: A Young Woman for Nature

[caption id="attachment_37466" align="alignleft" width="150"] Julie Lopez, Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada.[/caption] This blog was written by Julie Lopez, the Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada. Melissa Cusack Striepe is a Young Woman for Nature that first became involved with Ontario Nature, then with Nature Canada through the Young Women for Nature mentorship initiative. She is currently a third-year student at McMaster University, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Engineering in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Sustainability. This summer she is completing an internship with the Water & Natural Environmental Department of Hatch, an engineering consulting firm in Burlington, Ontario. From a very early age, Melissa was immersed in nature. Both Melissa’s parents are very connected to the environment, which resulted in her spending a lot of time being active and outdoors throughout her childhood and teenage years. From her experience in outdoor Kindergarten in Germany, to time spent at her family’s hobby farm, to canoe trips in Temagami and on the French River – Melissa shared that

“ [Nature] was my classroom, and it was where I learned from the very beginning.”

The Ontario Nature Youth Council came into the picture of Melissa’s life when she was in 7th grade – and wanted to attend the Ontario Nature Youth Summit. Despite not yet being in high school, Melissa was already keen to become involved and to meet others that were similarly invested in the environment. For the next seven years, Melissa was a part of the Ontario Nature Youth Council. She partook in various projects and events in the Greater Toronto Area, and said of the experience that it was a “great opportunity to connect with people who cared about the same topics, and feeling like my concerns for the environment were real.” It was from her active involvement in the Youth Council that Melissa was informed of Nature Canada’s Young Women for Nature mentorship initiative.  As someone that is always looking for opportunities to engage a larger network, Melissa applied for the opportunity to be a mentee, and much to her delight, was accepted. Having moved away from her hometown to pursue a Bachelor’s of Engineering degree in Chemical Engineering at McMaster, Melissa is now occupying an advisory role for the Ontario Nature Youth Council. At the same time as she is providing guidance to the council, she has been receiving guidance from her Woman for Nature mentor for her own environmental endeavors in the engineering field. Of the mentorship initiative, Melissa has said that some of the most valuable moments come from “ […] choosing to take those opportunities to build your network, and to build those connections that you can.” She highlights the importance of active involvement and shares how doing so has enabled her to acquire more knowledge, learn new skills, and grow her network. Her passion for the environment and desire to learn are encouraging. Here at Nature Canada we are very excited to hear more about Melissa’s environmental endeavors in the engineering field, and to continue to see her growth within the Young Women for Nature mentorship initiative.

Nature Canada would like to thank the Women for Nature members for generously supporting this mentorship pilot.


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Jenny Jachtorowicz: A Young Woman For Nature Mentee
Jenny
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Jenny Jachtorowicz: A Young Woman For Nature Mentee

[caption id="attachment_37466" align="alignleft" width="150"] Julie Lopez, Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada.[/caption] This blog post was written by Julie Lopez, the Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada. Jenny Jachtorowicz is a second year student at Carleton University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology. Jenny first became involved with Nature Canada as a Young Woman for Nature mentee for the Women for Nature mentorship initiative, shortly after being a member of the Youth Council with Ontario Nature. As a student of Forensic Psychology, Jenny will have a unique entry point to the environmental industry, and her Women for Nature mentor, Margaret Beckel, the Director of the Museum of Nature, has helped her connect the dots between her passion, studies and professional aspirations. Joining her love for the environment to her interest in Forensic Psychology, Jenny is looking to base her upcoming thesis on the reasoning and factors behind civil disobedience motivated by environmental concerns. The subject of environmental crime and psychology is incredibly interesting, and, with little research on its subject to date, further studies of it will make Jenny an innovator in the field. Her love for the environment, and learning in nature spurred in grade 10, when her high school collaborated with the Public Board Bronte Creek Project: Trail Program. In this program, Jenny was able to complete four high school credits in an outdoor setting. Their classes would take place in a cabin; however, they spent the remainder of their time doing work outside and in nature. This experience opened her eyes to sustainability and enabled her to get out of the traditional classroom setting.

As an Ontario Nature Youth Council Member

The following year, Jenny became a member of Ontario Nature’s Youth Council. Her journey with Ontario Nature began after she saw a post about their Youth Summit on social media, and was motivated to meet other people that were equally passionate about the environment.  Following the weekend retreat, she became involved with the Ontario Nature Youth Council and began her journey championing various environmental endeavors across Ontario. Over the past three years, Jenny has been involved in many projects with Ontario Nature. One of the most prominent projects was the Pollinator Project – for which Ontario Nature partnered with Bee City Canada to encourage towns, regions and cities to put forward declarations to take actions to protect spaces for pollinators. Jenny was the driving force behind making Halton, her hometown region a Bee Friendly region, and is setting her sights on making Carleton University the first ‘Bee Friendly Campus’ in the nation’s capital. [caption id="attachment_37483" align="aligncenter" width="960"] The Ontario Nature Youth Council. Photo provided by Jenny.[/caption]

A Young Woman for Nature Mentee

Most recently, Jenny became a Young Woman for Nature mentee with Nature Canada, and a mentee as part of the Women for Nature mentorship pilot. She said her experience as a mentee was interesting, eye opening and motivating. Jenny mentioned how valuable it was to have Margaret as a mentor because, while she does not have a nature or environmental degree, she was, nonetheless, working as the Director for the Canadian Museum of Nature. Jenny mentions how “it was interesting to speak with someone in the environmental field,” and that, “as someone that is pursuing a degree that is not directly connected to nature, it is interesting to see how other people can get there.” Margaret helped her see the possibility for any educational experience or degree to cater to environmentalism, in addition to how to gain different, and useful skill sets that will advantageous when entering the workforce.

Next Steps

This summer Jenny will be working as a research assistant at Carleton University for the Geography and Cartography Department. She will also be continuing to champion to make Ottawa a better environment for pollinators – and is working toward having Carleton University become the first Bee Friendly Campus in the Nation’s capital.

Nature Canada would like to thank the Women for Nature members for generously supporting this mentorship pilot.


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Sevrenne Sheppard: A Young Woman for Nature from Coast to Coast
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Sevrenne Sheppard: A Young Woman for Nature from Coast to Coast

[caption id="attachment_37466" align="alignleft" width="150"] Julie Lopez, Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada.[/caption] This blog post was written by Julie Lopez, the Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada. Sevrenne Sheppard is a Young Woman for Nature that hails from Vancouver Island, and that will be graduating this October with a Bachelor of Arts in Environment and Ecological Determinants of Health in Society with a minor in Urban Systems Geography at McGill University, in Montreal, QC. Sevrenne first became involved with Nature Canada as a Young Women for Nature following the suggestion of a former colleague that she apply for the Young Women for Nature mentorship initiative. Sevrenne successfully applied to the mentorship initiative – effectively combining her love for the environment and interest in connecting with women who share similar passions, values and goals.

From Marmots on Vancouver Island to Urban Greenspaces at McGill University

[caption id="attachment_37467" align="alignright" width="300"] Sevrenne.[/caption] Although she is just completing her Honours Bachelor degree, Sevrenne has extensive and impressive experience in the environmental field. Her journey began very early on, when she was in third grade and endeavored to raise donations and awareness for the recovery of the Vancouver Island Marmot population, which had reached a record low of 30 marmots at the time. Since that first foray, she has worked with environmental organizations across the country. Going back to the summer of 2014, Sevrenne was an instructor with Science Venture at University of Victoria, and then spent the following summer as an Outreach Instructor with Actua in the Arctic for eight communities in the Kivaliq and Kitikmeot regions of Nunavut. [caption id="attachment_37469" align="alignleft" width="237"] Fresh Roots Farm in Vancouver, BC.[/caption] After that, she started an arts-based environmental education program in Haida Gwaii between January and April of 2016. Later that year, she interned with Jane’s Walk in Toronto, and finally coordinated SOYL leadership program with Fresh Roots in Vancouver in 2017. Currently, Sevrenne is living in the metropolitan city of Montreal. Despite being surrounded by buildings, she has stayed connected to nature through a market gardening apprenticeship with the Concordia Greenhouse Project, and has remained active in her nearby nature with frequent runs around Montreal’s urban greenspaces and parks, such as Parc Lafontaine.

 As a Young Woman for Nature

So far, Sevrenne described her experience as a Young Woman for Nature mentee as
“Grounding, inspiring and learnful.” (Learnful being a word that she “made up [herself] and now uses all the time because it is so relevant to [her] life.”)
Sevrenne highlighted the support and insight that her mentor, Cara Clairman, the President and CEO of Plug’nDrive, provided: “She’s very supportive and encouraging and […] made me feel much more equipped with a vision of what the future holds, and equipped to reach the goals that I have for my professional life.” Overall, the experience as a Young Woman for Nature “Helped me to see what my options are and feel like I don’t have to make one big choice – I can try things out and see how they go. At this early point in my career, it’s more about finding out what I like to do and what I’m good at – and also finding out what I don’t like too! And that can mean taking wrong turns, taking risks, making mistakes. My main takeaway is reassurance that it is all part of the process, and the process is supposed to be a little messy.” For those who are looking to become involved in the environmental movement, Sevrenne recommends, “to not be afraid to try new things […]. All of those experiences are valuable and give you a better sense of what your strengths are, which can build your capacity in whatever work you do! Finding people who you love to work with is important also - make things happen together! Your friends and your communities are your greatest resources.” [caption id="attachment_37470" align="alignright" width="384"] Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_37468" align="alignleft" width="388"] Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.[/caption]


Mastering the Future

Sevrenne pressed that, “it is essential to pay attention to the social part of the environment. Humans are part of the environment too. We do [many] things that impact nature, and nature impacts us in turn – we’re inextricably linked.” With inter-connectivity in mind, she is looking to continue to pursue interdisciplinary studies, learning about social and natural sciences. We are confident that Sevrenne will remain a strong advocate for the well-being of young people and reinforce the importance of their roles as leaders in the environmental movement and beyond, as is she.

Nature Canada would like to thank the Women for Nature members for generously supporting this mentorship pilot.


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Women’s leadership: A Conversation with Janet Bax
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Women’s leadership: A Conversation with Janet Bax

[caption id="attachment_36747" align="alignleft" width="150"] Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese, a Women for Nature Member.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_36759" align="alignright" width="150"] Janet Bax, a Women for Nature member and mentor.[/caption] Featuring Women for Nature member’s Janet Bax. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese.  Sharolyn: You have had a long illustrious career in both government and academia.  From what you’ve seen, do they work together or in tandem when it comes to protecting the environment? Janet: Academia and government have very different roles to play, but they’re equally important.  One of government’s primary roles is to develop programs and policies that work to create that economic well-being in the interest of the people. Academia advances the science and knowledge.  When I think of my career in government, we called on scientists to give us the underpinning for policies.  Working with home grown scientists, there was always a collaborative spirit. I started in policy development in the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario with Premier Bill Davis in the financial area, then moved federally to foreign affairs, and then worked under the Progressive Conservative government under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to advance Canada’s position as part of an international climate change agreement.  In those days, Environment Canada was really strong.  We were working on a Canadian position which had to include both the positions of Canada’s natural resource NGOs and Department and also that of Environment Canada that was fighting for climate change policies.  It was very fractious; however, at Geneva, we had a consolidated Canadian position.  That was when the international model for cap and trade was discussed and developed. S: What do you mean that Environment Canada was really strong? J: It started under Brian Mulroney, and continued under Prime Minister Chretien when we had two very strong cabinet ministers working on climate change, and they were both women! They were Sheila Copps who was at the same time Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment, and Anne McLennan who was Minister of Natural Resources. S: It is important to note these capable women were given the chance by a strong leader, Jean Chretien, and they did not disappoint. Up to then, few women were given a chance, but were set up for failure. J: Yes. These women were pioneers. I also worked with Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the current Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.  She is also passionate about the work in which she is involved. S: How do you define a strong woman? J: Interesting question. I think you want and need models.  Liz reminds me that when we both worked at the provincial level and went to federal provincial meetings, we were the only women there.  We were there to do a job.  We stuck together.  The women were not strident, contrary to the John Crosby thing.  Liz has always wanted to do a good job.  For instance, when she was the Canadian representative to the UN Environmental Program in Nairobi, she wanted to make changes, and she did. S: Why do you think there weren’t, and aren’t more women in a leadership role? J: One of the first assessments I undertook when I joined the Council of Canadian Academies looked at the factors that influence the career trajectory of women in research and explored why there are not more women at the top in academia. It found there are all kinds of factors that can explain why there aren’t more women in positions of leadership – things like the timing of childbearing years and career choices, but more importantly, women don’t have the same kind of networks as men.  Men use their networks to get ahead. They have time to make connections, which they use so well.  Women are busy looking after their home, and kids and if they don’t publish in academia, they perish.  Women are so stretched; they don’t have time to network.  Research showed this impacted their ability to climb the success ladder. S: From your experience, has protection of the environment always been the case or were nature and the environment seen as commodities to be sold? If there was a shift, when did it happen. J: First of all, there were major cross-border events such as the Love Canal in Niagara; and the acid rain agreement involving Canada and the US on our shared Great Lakes. But, there was also the United Nations 1987 Brundtland Commission which coined the term “sustainable development”.  This was the notion that development must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, and that the exploitation of natural resources and protection of the environment did not have to involve the deterioration of economic and social development. S: You’ve traveled a lot outside of Canada, what does Nature mean to you? J: I think we Canadians value our environment. I think of Sheila Copps and how she created all the national parks under Prime Minister Chretien. I am so proud of these extraordinary protected lands such as the Gwaii Haanas National Park. I am so happy that for Canada 150 the national parks were free. It was so successful that now they have to limit visitors to some of our most popular national parks such as Banff.  We have been very good at preserving our environments.  Now, we have to do same for water.  When I come back from Europe or Africa, I know how important fresh water is.  Many think the next world war will be a fight for water.  Canada does have fresh water, so we are fortunate. [caption id="attachment_35109" align="alignleft" width="300"] Women for Nature at the Parliamentary Reception in October 2017.[/caption] S: What is the value of being a Woman for Nature? J: It is a wonderful thing to give back, and also saying this is what I stand for.  It defines me. The greatest thing about Women for Nature is that we have a common goal of being interested in Nature, preserving it, and ensuring younger women get involved. It has provided such a wonderful network. S: What do you hope to achieve by being a Woman for Nature? J: I’ve helped set up the mentorship program for young women. Many of them are so talented and simply need more confidence – to feel empowered in their decisions.  Mentorship is having a person with experience at your side to say, why not try it this way.  We’ve only recently launched the program, and hope to see it as a success. S: How would you describe your experience so far at Women for Nature? I love Women for Nature! We have to be involved in nature. Even though you’re giving, you’re getting something back.


Watch the below video of Janet talking about Nature Canada’s amazing Women for Nature and their collective voices!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v1Ku3ddriU
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