It’s been a while since Tanya Nestoruk spent time in an elementary school but the wait has been worth her while as the Our Canada Project ambassador spends time with young people talking about sustainability and encouraging them to think creatively about their vision of Canada.
Nestoruk, one of 26 ambassadors with the Our Canada Project (representing southern Ontario), was back home chatting with students at Hastings Public School and elementary school alma mater Kent in Campbellford. The CDHS alumnus is now a graduate of the University of Guelph with a degree in Environmental Governance so encouraging youth to brainstorm about the four pillars of sustainability-environmental, social, economic and cultural- is precisely where her academic passions have taken her.
The Our Canada Project was developed by Learning for a Sustainable Future with an “online platform” that allows youth across the country to share their ideas about sustainability, Nestoruk says.
“We’re trying to brainstorm what [they] can do in their school and classroom to be sustainable,” she says. “And if they’re already doing something in the school we are talking about they can re-vamp that idea [and] go back to it and let’s start where people left off.”
During her HPS presentation she began with a video and film samples of projects done at other schools. She wants to reach as diverse a range of youth as possible.
“I’m trying to get a good variety [of groups],” Nestoruk says. “It’s just something to get them thinking about going green and sustainability and from there they can start to talk to their teachers.”
The classroom sessions include mural-drawing with students articulating their ideas in visual form; each of the murals will hang in the school fuelling more discussion about potential projects.
The idea, says Nestoruk, is to stimulate some long-range thinking.
“It’s planting the seed and allowing their ideas to develop from there [and see] what they can do in their particular schools.”
Nestoruk says it’s been an “inspiring” experience. She was one of the founders of the CDHS environmental club and has been back to talk to the club as an Our Canada Project ambassador.
The return to CDHS was thrilling, Nestoruk says, because she represents what is possible for committed and engaged young environmentalists.
“I just think it’s inspiring to see how passionate youth are about the environment and
other forms of sustainability. At university you’re in this bubble that everyone’s so ecologically minded and you think that once you leave that bubble it’s going to change but here it’s not. It’s really awesome to see how passionate people are.”
Her work with the Our Canada Project ties in exactly with her university studies in environmental governance. “My passion has always been talking to youth and promoting sustainability. I’m really passionate about this program because we’re trying to bridge the gap, trying to introduce sustainability into the curriculum. It’s an additional kind of push to get youth thinking about that.”