Melissa, Dominique, Sarah, and Bianca pose with Professor Chris Hadfield at the IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership.

Environment students attend sustainability leadership conference

Connecting with over 170 youth leaders from across Canada, meeting Chris Hadfield, learning to play the djembe drum, engaging with environmental professionals, and tackling a diverse range of sustainability issues - what do all of these things have in common? The fact that we were able to experience it all within four days at the IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership this past May.

We are four Faculty of Environment students at the University of Waterloo: Melissa Gerrard and Dominique Souris (Environment and Resource Studies), Sarah Jamal (International Development), and Bianca Rocha (Environment and Business).

IMPACT! 2014 was a phenomenal experience for all of us. Over the weekend we, as delegates, participated in a wide variety of activities, including: listening to keynote speeches, working within specific challenge groups, attending workshops, brainstorming projects to implement after returning home, and networking with other participants and sustainability experts.

I (Melissa) participated in the Climate Adaptation challenge group and was inspired by the engaging conversations that were had about Canadian cities, the key areas of concern that they face in relation to climate change, and priorities for adaptation initiatives. My experiences at IMPACT! left me motivated to continue to play a role in building resilient and sustainable communities.

I (Sarah) participated in the Poverty in Canada challenge group. I was moved by the passion and stories of youth from all across Canada. IMPACT! gave me the inspiration to learn more about local issues and take action not only on my fourth-year placement, but also locally.    

I (Bianca) was a part of the Sustainable Business Models challenge group. The group activities allowed me to apply my current knowledge as well as learn more through engaging discussion with others. I left IMPACT! feeling inspired to make a positive change in my local community.

I (Dominique) participated in the Clean, Affordable & Abundant Water Group challenge group. The opportunity to learn, discuss and create solutions to Canada’s prominent water issues was exceptional. I left IMPACT! feeling equipped and empowered to continue working to make our country’s water clean, affordable and abundant for all Canadians.

As Chris Hadfield said: “'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.''  IMPACT! was an inspiring experience for all of us, and we left motivated to be the sustainability leaders of today.

You can get more information about the IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership on Environment News.

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