Celebrating Waterloo's first WWF Living Planet Leader

In Fall 2019, Maggie Chang became one of the first ten Living Planet Leaders with WWF Canada, and the first from the University of Waterloo. We asked Maggie to share her experiences about the program to encourage and inspire other students to pursue it too!

Here's what Maggie had to say:

Maggie Chang standing next to treeHi everyone! My name is Maggie Chang and I am in my 4th year at the University of Waterloo. My major is Environment, Resources and Sustainability, and I’m also completing minors in Biology and International Development.

I’m a lifelong environmentalist and dedicated environmental advocate. I also work on the interrelated causes of social justice and equality as all three of these factors impact the future of our planet and the quality of life of every living being on it.

Q: What interested you about the Living Planet Leader designation?

What didn’t interest me - all of it seemed so exciting! Recognition from WWF Canada! Being part of a network of young leaders! Sharing what I’ve done for sustainability and inspiring others! It was affirmation that the work I do for sustainability matters and deserves celebration.

We don’t always get to take a moment to reflect on our impact and I think in the environment field we don’t celebrate ourselves and smaller achievements enough so this was a wonderful opportunity to step back, reflect and celebrate the steps that all go toward making a bigger difference.

I also like how it was designed to have a balance between personal and more community or system focused sustainability work. Too often I see it being presented as a dichotomy, individual action or systemic action and I think it’s important to do both! Small individual actions make a difference in the moment and bigger systemic actions allow for long term impact.

Q: What was the easiest part about completing your designation? What was the most difficult?

The easiest part was that I was already really involved in sustainability on campus running events like used clothing sales and sustainability conferences and I was able to count that work toward the certification. I think it’s great how it was designed to encourage folks to get involved if they aren’t already and recognize the efforts of people who were already doing great work.  

Logistically the hardest part of the application for me was filling in the 40 personal actions, they’re very achievable but some of them I just hadn’t heard of before, so it was great expanding my knowledge of what personal sustainability achievements look like.

How do you plan to leverage the Living Planet Leader designation in your professional pursuits?

It’s definitely a certification on my Linkedin now and part of the bio of all my social media accounts. I think it provides me with more credibility and authority on the subject of sustainability, because it’s proof that I walk the talk and live up to what I believe in.

I have also added the certification to my resume and expand on the certification at job interviews because it sounds impressive and it really is: I’m a WWF Canada Living Planet Leader.

Do you think there is value in the Living Planet Leader designation to students outside the Faculty of Environment?

Absolutely! Not just interdisciplinary teams, but interdisciplinary people are in higher and higher demand. Getting a Living Planet Leader certification can help you stand out from a crowd regardless of your major.

What advice do you have to current students that may be interested?

Take the leap, it’s so worth it! With intentionality, the LPL Certification program is very achievable. As with anything, some parts were easier than others, but what I’ve learned, and the relationships I’ve built along the way are just as, if not more, important than reaching the end goal of certification.

Perhaps the greatest thing about being a leader is watching yourself inspire others. One moment that stands out really clearly for me is once when I asked for no straw at a restaurant, it sparked a conversation. The server, also an environmental studies student, wanted to discuss ways in which he could respectfully and accessibly encourage more diners to minimize waste. I think we both left inspired, I know I did, because you never know when your actions, no matter how small, can inspire big change. 

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