Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada
Nina Andrascik: A Young Woman for Nature and Young Leader
News

Nina Andrascik: A Young Woman for Nature and Young Leader

[caption id="attachment_38101" align="alignleft" width="150"] Julie Lopez[/caption] This blog was written by Julie Lopez, the Digital Communications Coordinator at Nature Canada. Nina Andrascik is a Young Woman for Nature and recipient of the Young Leaders grant. This grant is what helped her found WE GO, the Women for the Environment and the Great Outdoors Club which engages female first and second generation Canadians and International students to enjoy Canada’s great outdoors. Nina is also a team member of Ocean Bridge and contributes local service to engage youth in ocean conservation. Nina recently graduated from Nepean High School in Ottawa, Ontario, and will be pursuing a Bachelors of Science (BSc) Natural Resources Conservation at the University of British Columbia, at the Vancouver campus this fall. She is excited to further her studies and to discover everything that British-Colombia has to offer. [caption id="attachment_38200" align="alignright" width="300"] Nina Andrascik[/caption] Being in close proximity to nature is something that has always been important to Nina. In her downtime she enjoys canoeing and kayaking, and has recently gotten into climbing and spelunking (which is the exploration of caves, also known as caving). These activities have allowed her to grow her appreciation for nature far above, and below ground. Nina pinpointed one of the first moments when she felt the most connected to nature was in her grade ten outdoor education class, when she was on a canoe trip through Algonquin Park. Being thrown into a new environment, with just themselves, their canoes, and the natural beauty of the park, the group connected in a way that simply would not be attainable between four walls of a traditional classroom setting. As a Young Woman for Nature Awareness, connection and gratitude are the three words Nina used to describe her experience as a Young Woman for Nature. She mentions that a huge takeaway from this experience was the relationship that she built with Dawn Carr, her mentor through the program. Building this relationship made her realize that there are great people that occupy positions of leadership who are encouraging, and interested, and who are ready to take the time to provide guidance and support to the next generation. [caption id="attachment_38199" align="alignleft" width="240"] Nina, photo taken by fellow Ocean Bridge cohort member Kyle Singbeil.[/caption] Conversely, this experience showed Nina the challenges of getting people involved in the environmental movement. Due to the many elements that today’s youth needs to balance, it is easy for youth to miss the chance to get outside and enjoy nature. Taking Action Nina said that “being a Young Woman for Nature empowered me, and put me into a leadership position to get others involved.” The grant that Nina received through Women for Nature allowed her to start WEGO, her club that provide outdoor experience to girls in my school who weren’t involved in an outdoor education class to get out and participate in a variety of activities that some had never done before. The short-term goal of WEGO was to get first and second generation Canadians exposed to outdoor experiences and activities to help them establish new friendships and an appreciation for nature and Canada.  Nina shares that “The long-term vision is to have this initiative continue to gain enough momentum to potentially have our head of outdoor ed and school administration consider establishing an all women's outdoor ed class which allow different cultures to more easily participate.A Nature lover now, and forever. Nina summed it up perfectly, stating that, “Nature is everything and always will be. It was here long before iPhones, computers, humans, and even dinosaurs. […] Nature has been a constant thing on earth that should be infinite. Nature and the environment is what sustains us and keep us connected to our roots. For these reasons I feel that everyone should feel the importance of protecting our heritage and enjoy the beauty of what was here long before any of us.”


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


Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Join our 80,000 nature lovers raising their voices for nature!


 

Melissa Cusack Striepe: A Young Woman for Nature
News

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.


Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Join our 80,000 nature lovers raising their voices for nature!

Nature Canada Welcomes Her Honour, The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and our 1st Young Women for Nature
News

Nature Canada Welcomes Her Honour, The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and our 1st Young Women for Nature

[caption id="attachment_11729" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Jodi Joy Jodi Joy
Director of Development[/caption] Nature Canada was delighted to recognize Her Honour, the Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia as our newest Women for Nature member for her life-long commitment to nature.  Earlier this month, she graciously spoke about the importance of engaging youth voices for nature at the Child and Nature international conference in Vancouver. She is visiting 150 schools in British Columbia this year to encourage young people “to become involved in our democracy in order to contribute to the goal of: Healthy People in Healthy Communities on Healthy Land.”  To do so, Her Honour encouraged having “respectful relationships with all who share this land and with the land which supports us all, and a responsibility to leave our community, Province or state and our Nation better for all who follow.”   [caption id="attachment_32785" align="aligncenter" width="626"]Image of Women for Nature in attendance at the international Child and Nature conference Women for Nature in attendance at the international Child and Nature conference. (L - Meg Beckel, Chloe Dragon Smith, Diz Glithero, Dawn Carr, Her Honour Judith Guichon - R)[/caption] At this time, she helped name Nature Canada’s 1st Young Woman for Nature, Ms. Chloe Dragon Smith who was recognized for her leadership on the Nature Playbook and dedication to engaging more Canadians with nature. Chloe co-chaired the intergenerational task force that developed the Nature Playbook which was used to inspire our Young Nature leaders for their own project ideas. Chloe is a young Chipewyan-European-Metis woman from the small city of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Her Northern upbringing shaped her values. It is her hope to empower others to connect with Nature and encourage them to find their paths in their own way.Image of Chloe Dragon Smith

When I am out in Nature, I am at my most observant, most alive, and most authentic self. The Nature Playbook is a simple, small way to invite others to connect with the land and hopefully, to evoke some of those same feelings of belonging and joy that have been so powerful for me. Chloe Dragon Smith
  What a wonderful way to celebrate our nation’s 150th birthday by encouraging young Canadians to act as a strong voice for nature! Six additional young nature leaders from across the country have also been chosen as Nature Canada’s first recipients of our exciting new Young Nature Leadership Grant. Established this year thanks to the generosity of Women for Nature members, the goal of the Young Nature Leadership Grant is to encourage, foster and nurture youth to demonstrate their own leadership for nature. Canadian youth were invited to develop and implement (in 2017) a project inspired by the Canadian Parks Council’s recently published The Nature Playbook. The inaugural Young Nature Leadership Grant recipients include: Caroline Merner, Victoria, BC
  • Caroline is developing and leading interactive quick play sessions connecting people with nature’s changing tides and coasts.
Chantal Templeman, Cochrane, AB
  • Chantal is bringing youth caving to teach them about bats and cave conservation, and encourage team-building and leadership skills while volunteering on projects in Banff National Park.
Martha Henderson, Whitehorse, Yukon
  • Martha is developing a Girl’s Nature Club to engage and empower teenage girls with the wilderness knowledge and skills to help them become comfortable and confident with nature. She plans to inspire girls with positive role models through intergenerational sharing of nature knowledge.
Mathilde Papillon, Ottawa, ON
  • Mathilde is developing a Green Wall for her school with the goal of bringing nature to current and future students to learn from and enjoy.
Nina Andrascik, Ottawa, ON
  • Nina is developing a pilot project to encourage first generation new Canadians to enroll in outdoor education programs. She is creating a video series to document the participants experience and voices about their experience.
Olivia DesRoches, Hampton, NB
  • Olivia and her Grade 11 Foundations of Math class are building and running a greenhouse on their school property to bring the knowledge of cultivating fruits and vegetables and flowers to students and to further their knowledge about the environment and pollinators.
What an awesome way to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary by empowering emerging Young Nature Leaders to champion nature. By working together we can conserve, and encourage new generations to connect with nature. Dawn Carr, Women of Nature member & Executive Director of the Canadian Parks Council
To read more on Chloe Dragon Smith receiving the Young Women for Nature Award, click here
Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Discover more about the nature you love.

Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.

Donate