By Melanie Apps | April 14, 2023
March 31st, 2023 marks an important milestone at ISCBC with the official conclusion of our highly successful Youth Volunteer Project. Starting in 2019, this program brought youth across BC together to learn about invasive species and their impacts. Participants were empowered to take action on invasives through reporting and management practices, with the goal of keeping BC’s communities and landscapes healthy.
Over four years, youth volunteers contributed an outstanding total of 48,244 hours! From the start of the program in April 2019 to the end of March 2023, we welcomed 786 volunteers. In its final year, youth volunteers contributed more than 16,000 hours of work; engaging in habitat enhancement. They made an epic difference that included the removal of 346 bags of invasive plants and the collection of 47 bags of trash. They attended 45 outreach events, educating 2,773 members of the public about invasive species.
Activities with the Youth Volunteer Project
One of the unique features of our Youth Volunteer Project was the variety of ways in which participants could contribute to environmental stewardship, both in-person and online. From invasive plant pulls and native planting sessions, to species-focused nature walks, skill-building workshops on conducting bio inventory surveys; bee house building and beekeeping workshops; and so much more. For volunteers who couldn’t join in-person events, we provided virtual options like monthly Volunteer Dialogue Sessions, mini summits, our Provincial Youth Summit, and skill-based workshops focused on invasive pest identification and management, climate anxiety, seed starting, and many more.
The Youth Volunteer Program also successfully debuted its Herbitual Readers Book Club, with five cohorts in the Lower Mainland, Victoria, Central Vancouver Island, Kamloops, and a volunteer-directed cohort in Kelowna. Book club participants read titles like ‘Gathering Moss’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer, gaining a new understanding and appreciation for mosses and nature.
Who are our youth volunteers?
Over four years, incredible friendships were forged, passions ignited, and useful skills learned. Participants in the Youth Volunteer Project repeatedly emphasized their positive experiences which included acquiring knowledge on invasive and native species, and making strong, lasting connections with other like-minded youth. We asked our dedicated youth volunteers about their experiences with the Youth Volunteer Project and here’s what some of them had to say:
Matthew Syvenky, Burnaby
“Being a part of the youth program means being part of a community of passionate change makers. Some of the greatest connections I have ever made have been through the youth volunteer program. I am consistently amazed by all the work that volunteers in the program do.
Volunteering with the youth program has given me a considerably personal boost, helping me to become more independent, self-motivated, and outgoing. It has greatly contributed to my career aspirations, changed my career trajectory and helped me land multiple jobs in the environmental industry. Volunteering with ISCBC helped me realize my passion for invasive species and ecological restoration.”
Sara McLean, Kelowna
“With ISCBC, I get to be part of a community of like-minded people who care about the health of our native ecosystems. That’s really special to me. ISCBC has made me feel more than welcome to explore invasive ecology, as I am celebrated when I show that I care about using my skills to slow the spread of invasive species! It makes me feel like I am working towards fulfilling my purpose on this planet.
My volunteer coordinator, Melissa, has gone above and beyond in helping me find my footing in the search for an ecological career. Plus, she ensures we feel appreciated and know that our involvement with ISCBC is valuable.”
Niklaus Sun, Delta
“Volunteering with the ISCBC Youth Team has enabled me to better connect with my community. I love working to improve the lives of people, plants, and animals, and every ISCBC activity I’ve attended was a lot of fun, too!
ISCBC has also given me great resources in my career. I really appreciated getting connected to job boards and training courses relevant to my environmental job search. I also learned about different careers and environmental fields during volunteer activities.”
Jasmine Hathway, Vancouver
“The ISCBC Youth Volunteer Program is hands down the best program in BC for young adults interested in environmental restoration or invasive species management. The program offers a diverse mix of in-person and online workshops, so I would recommend attending as many you can!
In addition, the staff team is very supportive. Melanie Apps, who is the Youth Coordinator in Vancouver, has helped me find so many incredible opportunities in the lower mainland. Each week, I look forward to opening my inbox and seeing a list of different events I could attend to further my knowledge of invasive species. She has also supported volunteers who wanted to start their own initiatives!”
Sophie Warren, Vancouver
“I have had a wonderful experience of growth and connection through the ISCBC Youth Program. I have felt very lucky to have taken part in invasive species removal events, stewardship panel discussions, workshops, and education opportunities thanks to the connections that the ISCBC program has provided to me.
It has been a pleasure to contribute to the important environmental work happening in my community, and I know I will be able to stay connected with like-minded and passionate individuals moving forward thanks to the relationships I have formed through the program.”
Naomi Acheson, Coquitlam
“Volunteering with ISCBC has given me the opportunity to contribute to many different communities while adding ecological value to different ecosystems. I will forever be grateful for the wonderful people I was able to work alongside.”
What’s next for ISCBC’s Youth Volunteer Program?
With the end of one program, comes the beginning of the next! Our Youth Team is currently working on developing an exciting new program, one that builds on the strong foundation and rich history and success of the past four years. It’s a very exciting time for us! We look forward to continued success with current youth and we can’t wait to welcome brand new volunteers from across Canada.
We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all our youth volunteers who have made this program an amazing success, and for your dedication to invasive species management and education. Thank you for your outstanding work!
The ISCBC Youth Volunteer Project is funded by the Government of Canada under the Canada Service Corps.
Melanie is a Youth Coordinator for the Lower Mainland region with ISCBC. She is passionate about community-focused environmental stewardship and helps lead a restoration project in New Westminster in her free time. You can reach Melanie at [email protected]