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Pandas hug Lions: WWF-Canada and York University book a deal

On January 30, WWF-Canada and the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) at York University signed a unique agreement.

David Miller and Dean Noël Sturgeon. ©WWF-Canada

David Miller and Dean Noël Sturgeon. ©WWF-Canada

WWF-Canada President and CEO David Miller and FES Dean Noël Sturgeon, agreed that pairing up students from Canada’s largest environmental studies faculty with Canada’s foremost conservation organization would result in big wins for the planet.

Students will get the first chance to apply for internships this Spring.

David Miller is now an adjunct faculty member at the FES and kicked off the partnership with guest lectures to two packed classrooms.

Miller’s first lecture for undergraduates was about transit, while his second lecture highlighted key research from WWF-Canada’s freshwater program. He gave the class a sneak peak at the organization’s unique freshwater health assessment methodology. The WWF freshwater team will publish findings on the health of 50 per cent of Canada’s freshwater in June, and results for all freshwater in Canada by 2017. (No small feat, considering Canada holds 20 per cent of the worlds freshwater.)

The Faculty graduates over 300 students each year. Some of these students were already eager to learn more about how they could help save the planet – and get a job at WWF-Canada.

Pandering to the Alma mater

Two WWF-Canada employees who are also York FES graduates were on hand to answer questions and illustrate how an environmental studies degree can lead to a rewarding career.

Jessica talking with students. ©WWF-Canada

Jessica Park graduated in 2006 from York with a Master in Environmental Studies. She said she made a lot of lasting connections during her time at York that have helped her to succeed at WWF. “It may have helped that WWF’s previous Chief Conservation Officer (the person who hired me) was also an MES grad! Okay, I admit it probably wasn’t the main reason for my hire, but seriously, I will say that one of the benefits of the MES program is its size. I know so many people from my time at York who are working in conservation and I continue to bump into former colleagues and classmates at various professional events now, a decade later,” said Park, adding that the interdisciplinary nature of the program was also a boon. “Interacting with so many students on such a wide variety of subject matter was great,” she said. “I think it would be hard to find another program that would have allowed me to not only take the core required courses for an urban planning specialization, but also courses in ‘green’ business and Native/Canadian relations, for example.”

Juliana Dutkay graduated in 2010 with a degree in business and environment – a joint program between FES and the Schulich School of Business. “I focused my studies on how private and not-for-profit sectors collaborate to achieve environmentally beneficial outcomes: A fairly narrow and quite particular focus that was only possible at York,” said Dutkay.

“During my program I came across HP’s collaboration with WWF, did a paper on it, and therefore had an opportunity to develop a relationship with WWF staff in the strategic partnerships unit. When a position became available, I had a great competitive advantage! My job is a pretty unique mix of fundraising for conservation work and changing business practices to reduce companies’ environmental footprints in sensitive ecosystems that we at WWF care so deeply about,” said Dutkay. “I am doing exactly what I wanted to do and was trained to do, which is rare these days for so many grads. I am pretty lucky to work at WWF.”