Getting involved in the Faculty of Environment

Environment ambassdors at an event.

Written by Aujas, student

As a student in the Faculty of Environment, you get the unique opportunity to be part of a community that’s having an impact on a local and global scale.

There are countless ways in which you can get involved and be a part of this impact. Through these opportunities, you'll get a chance to meet new people, apply your classroom knowledge, and learn useful skills. Here are six ways you can get involved in the Faculty of Environment community.

Connect with current and prospective students

Become an ambassador

Being an ambassador for the Faculty of Environment is an amazing way to spend more time with your professors and fellow students outside of class.

It’s also a great way to talk to prospective students and provide them with information about your program and faculty.

This helps improve your communication and leadership skills by giving you the opportunity to answer questions and demonstrate what it means to be a Waterloo student — not to mention you get to be the “face” of the Faculty and your program.

I’ve been an ambassador for almost three years now and have attended various recruitment events. It always brings me a lot of satisfaction to be able to answer prospective students and assist them in any way I can.

Through the ambassador program, I’ve also met many of the students I’m still friends with today.

Be an orientation leader

Orientation is an exciting time for both new students and student leaders. For new students, it’s usually their first time attending a university event and their first opportunity to meet people in their program, in their residence, and from across campus.

For leaders, it’s especially exciting because we get to help make this event memorable for incoming students. You get to work with your friends and experience something new together.

You’ll also be able to fine-tune your leadership skills (through organizing/running games and activities) and learn how to work as part of a team.

I decided to be an orientation leader because I knew it’d help me meet people that I otherwise wouldn’t have (people from different programs and years) while also helping incoming students. It’s an amazing feeling to be part of helping first-year students get settled into university and feel welcomed and excited about this new stage of life.


Volunteer at the Environment coffee shop

The Faculty of Environment has a student-run coffee shop that serves Rainforest Alliance-certified, locally-roasted coffee (and I will say it’s the best coffee on campus). Not only that, it also sells food at excellent prices and has daily specials. For example, on Trivia Tuesdays you can get free coffee for answering questions, and on Wednesdays you can get giant cookies for just 75 cents.

As a volunteer at the Environment coffee shop, you get to serve tons of people both within and outside the Faculty. Obviously, it’s a great way to meet people, but it also teaches you retail skills, which are very transferable. So, it can make for a great résumé booster.

The Environment coffee shop.

Visit the Environment coffee shop for snacks and drinks

Join student societies

The Faculty of Environment has its own student society, the Environment Students’ Society (ESS), and five student associations:

  1. Environment, Resources and Sustainability Student Association (ERSSA)
  2. Knowledge Integration Student Society (KISS)
  3. Planning Students’ Association (PSA)
  4. Waterloo Association of Geography Students (WAGS)
  5. Waterloo Environment and Business Students (WEBS)

WAGS is for the geography department, so it serves three programs: Geography and Environmental Management, Geomatics, and Geography and Aviation.

These student societies act as a voice for undergraduate students. Students are welcome to attend ESS or their respective program associations’ meetings to voice their concerns. These associations also organize events and trips that Environment students can attend.

You get to connect with people in your program and even professors in your department.

You can be a part of ESS and/or your respective student societies. Being a part of the student societies allows you to work closely with other students and the administration. It also allows you to help in planning events for your fellow students and gives you leadership experience while working as part of a team.

A great way to get involved

“WAGS is one of the greatest ways to get involved around campus. You get to connect with people in your program and even professors in your department.

WAGS means different things to different people — to some it serves more as a support group, while others use it as a way to de-stress by attending the events that we host.” — Dina, current WAGS president.

I learned how to manage budgets

I joined WAGS in my first term at university, and I was elected as treasurer. I usually like staying in my room (shout-out to all the introverts), so this position helped me get out and meet people regularly.

It also taught me how to manage budgets and events. I’d really recommend being a part of their student societies at least once during your time at school.


Join a Living Learning Community

Environment has its own Living Learning Community (LLC), which provides a unique opportunity to live with students from the same faculty or program.

You’ll get to know senior Environment students and professors who come out to various events in residence, and participate in projects and teams that help better the campus (such as the Green Team, whose mission is to help promote green practices, like biking).

Living in a Living Learning Community can make your transition to university easier through the support of a mentorship program

Living in an LLC can make your transition to university easier through the support of a mentorship program and by giving you access to resources that can answer your questions about university and help augment your experience.  

Another cool thing is that some of your classes will take place in United College (formerly St. Paul’s University College), which was my first-year residence, so you don’t even have to leave the residence to go to class. You can just walk out of your room and right into the classroom in the same building!

Students at a competition.

The University of Waterloo team at the National Geomatics Competition.


There are various competitions in the Faculty of Environment, such as the Jack Rosen Memorial Award for Environmental Innovation and the National Geomatics Competition. These competitions allow you to bring forth your innovative ideas and compete against your fellow students or students from different universities across Canada. You get to apply what you learn in the classroom and work with your team to achieve success.

We were given six hours to come up with an innovative solution to a problem, and then present it to a panel of judges.

I was part of the first-ever National Geomatics Competition. It was an amazing experience. We went to New Brunswick to compete against teams from various schools across Canada. We were given six hours to come up with an innovative solution to a problem, and then present it to a panel of judges.

It was really exciting to use our knowledge that we learned through school and co-op work terms to find a solution to a difficult problem. It was also incredible to meet people from various fields — both professionals and students. (As an aside, we came in second place, which was a super-exciting experience!)

These are just a handful of ways you can to get involved in the Faculty of Environment. There’s always something new and exciting to do, and there really is something for everyone. Don’t be shy — make the most of this incredible opportunity. You’ll meet people through all these various ways and develop (and learn new) skills.

More Environment profiles.


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