Launch of the 2022 Cohort of the Youth Water Leaders Program! – Ottawa Riverkeeper

The Youth Water Leaders Program 2022 Cohort Has Launched! These incredible young people will spend the next 8 months learning about the watershed, setting up projects to help protect the river and developing the skills to be lifelong water conservationists.

Ottawa Riverkeeper is excited to welcome our 2022 cohort of Youth Water Leaders! This year’s group comes from different backgrounds and experiences, and each participant is highly motivated by their passion to protect the river basin. We are happy to support such an inspiring group of young people who will work together and learn from each other for the next 8 months.

This year, the Youth Water Leaders will engage in hands-on activities and connect with experts in the watershed, including indigenous knowledge holders, community organizers and scientists. Over the course of the program, the youth will volunteer for 120 hours to learn about scientific oversight, water stewardship and community engagement. Each participant will co-create service projects to engage communities in watershed protection (see here for examples of the 2021 cohort’s projects) and build the skills to serve as lifelong water conservationists.

As part of the launch event, each youth water leader shared their watermark – a memory or connection that represents their relationship with water. They found they had a lot in common: shared experiences of paddling the river, swimming, and observing wildlife. It was great to hear their stories and share their appreciation for the importance of preserving our collective water heritage for future generations.

This year, the new Water Leaders began their stewardships by participating in the cleanup of the shoreline at Dow’s Lake. Plastic waste can be particularly harmful to the environment – it can persist for hundreds of years and fragment into microplastics that can be absorbed by aquatic life. The youth collected 37kg of trash and documented their cleanup using Ottawa Riverkeeper’s iCleanup app. They found numerous masks, plastic bottles and bags, and dozens of blue plastic bristles from snow sweepers clearing the Rideau Canal Skateway.

Stay tuned to learn more about our incredible group of Youth Water Leaders and check out our social media platforms to see them in action.

For more information, please contact Hannah Delion, Youth Programming Assistant at hdelion@ottawariverkeeper.ca. If you are part of an organization or researcher who would like to collaborate with our program, please contact Julia Ostertag, Director of River School & Youth Leadership at jostertag@ottawariverkeeper.ca.

The Youth Water Leaders Program is made possible through funding from the Government of Canada through the Canada Service Corps. The Canada Service Corps supports a national movement to build a culture of service by encouraging young people aged 15-30 to give back to their communities through volunteerism.

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