Invasive Species Council of British Columbia

Empowering Volunteers, Nationally: New Invasive Species Youth Program 

Youth tackling invasive species in Queen's Park, New Westminster. Credit: M. Apps

By Melissa Maslany | August 15, 2023

Calling all youth from coast to coast to coast! Want to make like-minded friends and connections across Canada while building skills and stewarding your community? Youth aged 15-30 are invited to join an exciting new volunteer program! The Invasive Species Youth Program, led by the Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC), has now launched in partnership with the Canadian Council on Invasive Species. This program supports youth in making meaningful impacts while protecting the beautiful biodiversity of Canada.    

Lauren Bosch, ISCBC Manager of Engagement, looks forward to providing an accessible space for youth volunteers to explore interests, gain meaningful connections and opportunities, and gain skills to help undertake any size of youth-led community service project. “Watching our volunteers build friendships, make meaningful connections, and excel in their education programs has been incredibly rewarding. With a new national program, thinking about how it will all connect is super exciting. I fully believe this program will leave a lasting impact.” 

A primary objective of the program is to equip youth with the skills and confidence to lead community service projects. Youth pitch their project ideas to their youth engagement coordinator in their province, and coordinators will provide them with support and guidance. The program was designed to be flexible, geared towards supporting youth in areas they want to grow. Projects can be as simple as pulling invasive weeds in their backyard or as complex as amassing volunteers and securing funding to tackle large invasive species infestations. There are many other ways to get involved, such as ecosystem restoration, outreach, creating educational and social media content, and article writing (like this one). Volunteers are encouraged and equipped to explore their creativity with community-enhancement projects.  

Removing invasives from McGowan Park, Kamloops. Credit: K. Bissat

“I’m most excited to see what kinds of creative community projects youth volunteers across Canada will take on,” said Melanie Apps, a Youth Engagement Coordinator in BC, who is enthusiastic about the new program. “We have many volunteers who have created engaging stewardship projects, from running community restoration events to hosting a windowsill pollinator planter workshop, and so much more! I look forward to seeing the engaging stewardship projects and having inspiring conversations with our youth volunteers.” 

Youth volunteers lend a helping hand to remove invasive species. Credit: M. Apps

Julien Robertson, ON Youth Engagement Coordinator, is eager to support youth in making a difference. “With an ever-growing list of environmental problems these days, the Invasive Species Youth Program empowers youth to tackle the issues that matter the most to them, by helping them gain the experience they need to shape the futures they want to create. I am so excited to support youth across Ontario – I look forward to seeing their impact on their communities!” 

Youth will also have additional opportunities to grow personally and professionally, such as networking and attending conferences; connecting, and sharing stories and project ideas with other Invasive Species Youth Program volunteers across Canada; attending workshops and presentations; and taking courses on various topics. 

Youth ages 15-30 holding Canadian citizenship, permanent resident status, or refugee status are encouraged to sign up.  If you are experiencing barriers to volunteer opportunities, such as availability and finances, contact Lauren at to enquire about support. Once the intake form is complete, you will be matched to a youth engagement coordinator and invited to discuss what you want to get out of the program.  

Melissa is a Youth Engagement Coordinator at ISCBC. She is passionate about empowering youth in the early stages of their careers. She juggles various different projects and activities in her spare time, such as gardening, dancing, crafting, and art. You can reach Melissa at