Hometown: Pickering, Ontario

Program: Environment, Resources, and Sustainability

Recipient of the 2017 Dean of Environment's Scholarship for Excellence

jenna_philips_headshotJenna has been an advocate of environmental sustainability from a very young age. As an member of her elementary school's Green Team, she worked to improve her local community through yard cleanups, recycling programs, and environmental awareness presentations.

As a high school student, Jenna was President of Green Ridge, the school environmental club. She organized energy audits, tree planting events, and led her school to Silver Level Eco-School status. In addition, she organized various fundraising events to raise funds for Evergreen Brickworks Environmental Centre in Toronto.

Student Q&A

Why did you choose to study Environment, Resources and Sustainability at Waterloo?

"I chose Environment, Resource and Sustainability because of its multi-faceted approach to identifying and solving environmental issues across the planet. I feel that ERS is the best program to help me to pursue my goals of creating a sustainable future. The flexibility of ERS means that I can research and approach a broad range of environmental issues while also pursuing a minor in my other passion, human nutrition. In addition, co-op will provide me with real-world experience that I can use in my future of environmental advocacy."

What are you most looking forward to during your time here?

"I am really looking forward to pursuing research in the sustainability of the global food system. There are many faculty members performing research in this field; I look forward to meeting them and following their research. I am also looking forward to starting co-op in my 2B term, where I can apply my learning in the workforce and really start to make a change in the world."

What do you plan to do after completing your degree?

"My goal is to develop a more sustainable global food system. I wish to research and visit areas in the world facing food insecurity and develop ways to better support their local communities with agriculture. This may include finding ways to enhance the soil so crops can survive in various climates, or even teaching communities which crops are suitable for the climate and how to can grow their own food sustainably.

In addition, I would like to develop a sustainable agriculture production system in western societies where overconsumption and resource depletion is a serious issue. I want to ensure the protection of human and animal welfare in the system while also preserving the planet and its resources for future generations."

What do you think is the most significant environmental challenge or opportunity facing society today?

"The most significant challenge I see is the negative impact that the food industry has on the world, both environmentally and socially. There is so much waste in the form of food, which also wastes the energy and resources used to produce the food that ends up in the garbage. Meanwhile, unequal food distribution across the world also means that there are less fortunate communities where malnourishment, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies are common. It astounds me how much food is wasted and ecosystems are disrupted while there are people in the world who are starving."

How do you hope to personally address this?

"Personally, I make conscious decisions with my food choices. I am choosing to buy more seasonal, locally grown produce from farmers markets. When possible, I make my own meals instead of purchasing packaged foods that use a great deal of energy and resources to create. When going out for meals or eating on residence, I take only what I need to minimize my food waste. I also try to purchase products that are labelled Fair Trade, and support ethical treatment of animals and food industry workers.

I believe that taking action on the individual level is the best way to implement a long-term change across the planet; the more individuals who make changes like the ones I’ve mentioned above, the sooner many environmental and social challenges can be overcome."

What do you like to do in your spare time, when you’re not trying to change the world?

"When I’m not researching new environmental initiatives or relaxing at a local coffee shop, I can be found reading, drawing, writing or dancing. I also really love cooking and baking; there is rarely a time in my house when I’m not in the kitchen! "

Apply for the Dean of Environment's Scholarship for Excellence.

Disclaimer: responses have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity purposes.

University of Waterloo

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