Celebrating WWF-Canada’s first Living Planet Leaders!
Meet our 2019 Living Planet Leaders who are helping to build a more sustainable Canada in their communities and on campus! The Living Planet Leader designation recognizes post-secondary students who have demonstrated a commitment to helping nature thrive during their studies and experienced how sustainability can be applied where they live and where they will work.
From creating capacity for sustainable initiatives on campus and in communities, guiding sustainable learning in their academic program, to inspiring other individuals to adopt sustainable practices, students across Canada are leading the way to a more sustainable future.
Introducing WWF’s first Living Planet Leaders
Muzhi (Maggie) Chang, Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo, 2021
As a lifelong environmentalist, Maggie joined the Living Planet Leader program to visibly and proudly show her dedication to environmentalism and demonstrate the powerful impact of youth leaders.
“Perhaps the most exciting part for me is the community I am part of thanks to this certification; a visible network of young people passionate about caring for our planet who are acting on their beliefs.”
Throughout her Living Planet Leader journey, Maggie gained experience in leadership and event management, but most importantly “I improved my ability to apply coursework outside the classroom”. By connecting her academic learnings with current events, Maggie was able to share that knowledge with others and apply it to her extracurricular activities.
As part of her certification, Maggie has led several projects including a second-hand clothing sale that collects donations from students and sells items for a low price on campus to encourage sustainable fashion habits. Working on these projects, Maggie has been able to expand sustainability on her campus by taking action and engaging students in meaningful change.
Samantha Casey, Environmental Governance, University of Guelph, 2019
Samantha embarked on her Living Planet Leader journey to tie her passion for biodiversity conservation beyond her studies and track her personal learning and campus engagement in sustainability.
“The largest success is that through my participation in the Living Planet Leader program, the University of Guelph Sustainability Office where I am now employed is beginning a partnership with WWF-Canada’s Living Planet @ Campus student engagement program. I now get to share my experience from this program, supporting other students through this journey.”
As a student last year, Samantha organized a team to participate in WWF’s Designing Change for a Living Planet think-tank competition. Together, they came up with a feasible solution to manage single use plastics with a plastics bottle depository system, which placed them as the first runner up!
The Living Planet Leader certification allowed Samantha to tailor her activities and experiences to the skills she needed to develop her career path and goals. Through her journey, Samantha gained experience in event coordination and management, thought leadership, and the opportunity to engage students in conversations and action around conservation and climate change. “Sharing your own story and experience is the best way to inspire others to get involved, as it can put a face to an issue”.
Joe Perez, Supply Chain and Operations Management, George Brown College, 2019
Becoming a Living Planet Leader helped Joe become more conscious of the impact of his actions and inspired him to be part of the solution towards a more sustainable future.
“The journey to complete the certification was nothing short of life changing. Once you are inspired to lead a more sustainable and conscious life, it’s easy to explain to your network why it makes sense for them to, too. To say that it changed the way I live would be an understatement”.
During his journey, Joe participated in WWF’s Designing Change for a Living Planet competition and was inspired to help organize George Brown’s conservation-themed documentary film screening event. Both of these activities inspired him to share his learnings with his community and get them involved in making changes—even as small as switching from plastic bottles to reusable bottles!
Joe completed his Living Planet Leader requirements earlier this year, and he isn’t stopping there. At George Brown, Joe is developing a workshop highlighting the importance of a sustainable mindset as a career-growing skill, to help support student success among his peers.
Erika Bolliger, Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, University of Toronto – St. George, 2019
Erika’s ultimate goal from the Living Planet Leader Program was to share her environmental journey and inspire others to start their own and connect with other leaders.
“Living Planet Leaders apply their unique skill sets to contributing to conservation and through the program they are encouraged to develop their skills further to become more effective.”
One of her favourite actions during her Living Planet Leader certification was her role as Executive Events Lead for the Jane Goodall Institute Roots and Shoots chapter at her university. She helped organize a No Waste November campaign that included activities to educate and encourage her peers about sustainable lifestyles. “I loved this campaign because it reminded me that I wasn’t the only one trying to make a difference but rather I was contributing to a global movement. The accumulation of many small actions by many people is what creates massive global change.”
Having the certification was an incentive for Erika to pursue her environmental goals and at the same time develop key skills that she could help her through her academic and future career journey.
Bradley Staite, Industrial Design, Humber College, 2021
Passionate about environmental issues, Brad joined the certification to give back to his community and learn more about taking action towards a sustainable future.
“This designation encourages you to think creatively. It is a certification I am proud to have met and continue to implement in my future studies and professional development.”
The various activities allowed Brad to work outside his comfort zone, with both post-secondary staff with environmental expertise and corporate partners with an interest to contribute to the work. Brad found an opportunity with the Sustainability office at Humber College where he contributed to the Take Back the Tap campaign highlighting the impact of single use plastics on the environment.
This project challenged Brad to utilize skills he had been developing during his certification and learn about the importance of environmental stewardship, and how it can easily be embedded within individual disciplines. “The opportunities this program has helped me attain have accelerated my growth and given me a better understanding of the type of work I want to commit my time to upon graduation.”
Haley Mcrae, Environmental Technician, Mohawk College, 2021
Looking for an opportunity to be part of something bigger, Haley started the Living Planet Leader certification for motivation and personal development.
The certification inspired Haley to run her own clothing donation drive on her campus to raise awareness around sustainable lifestyle choices. Throughout the project, she was able to identify specific goals that would encourage her peer’s participation and also improve her own understanding and passion for environmental care.
“It means being part of a network of people that all have the same goal: to help the environment in any way they can.”
Throughout her various activities, Haley enriched her current passion by learning from others, sharing her knowledge and experience, and developing skills for her personal and academic growth.
Connor Thompson, Master of Sustainability Science and Society, Brock University, 2020
After completing a co-op with Ocean Wise, participating in the Living Planet Leader program was Connor’s next step towards sharing his passion and interest for environmental sustainability.
“The LPL program has a powerful message and is a great way to show my commitment to environmental sustainability at home, in the workplace, and on campus.”
From the smaller changes such as using a reusable container or mug to choosing sustainable transportation, Connor created capacity for several organizations and environmental initiatives to achieve his certification. It gave him the opportunity to not only educate himself but share his growing knowledge with others and keep the conversation going.
During his LPL journey, Connor volunteered with Ocean Wise to build out their Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup map of his hometown, Hamilton to provide residents more opportunities to take action for nature. Creating engagement opportunities for others and volunteering for cleanups himself was a great challenge but also an amazing opportunity to build experiences with websites and time management, while protecting his local aquatic ecosystem.
Simon L’Allier, Master of Biology, York University, 2020
Simon is currently doing research on the behaviour of vervet monkeys at Lake Nabugabo, Uganda.
“Becoming a Living Planet Leader is an opportunity to show everyone why it matters, to show that organizations care about people switching to a more sustainable way of life. And most of all showing that it is possible, and that it is a positive experience to do so.”
One of the most important skills Simon developed while completing his Living Planet Leader requirements is communication. Accurate and effective communication helped Simon engage with various peers towards making a difference.
Throughout his journey, Simon volunteered to support a number of sustainable initiatives. With the WWF Go Wild School Grant, Simon proposed a project to reduce bird-window collisions and lead a conference to educate on the issue. This was the first conference he had ever organized and with help from his colleagues and supervisors, he hosted a multi-stakeholder discussion around bird-window collisions in Toronto.
Robert Monico, Master of Sustainability Studies, Trent University, 2020
Robert Monico is the Sustainability Projects Coordinator for Fleming College.
“The Living Planet Leader certification is a confirmation that I am successfully working towards both my career and life goals. This certification will serve as a reminder to me during the duration of my Masters and as I enter the workforce, that with perseverance people can overcome any obstacle.”
Balancing his role at Fleming College and his Masters program with the completion of the Living Planet Leader certificate, Rob highlights how students can demonstrate the possible. One of his favourite activities was creating a guide for elementary teachers that incorporated sustainability resources from the local community and WWF’s Living Planet @ School program. This activity allowed him to improve his professional writing and communication skills, but also to reflect upon his own educational experience, finding opportunities to share his ideas and critical thinking with others.
Tyler Boswell, Business Law, Carleton University, 2021
While conducting some environmental campaigns at school, Tyler learned about the LPL certification and was eager to be a part of it.
“It’s an honour to be in the inaugural class of WWF’s Living Planet Leaders. Earning this award reflects my own and a whole community’s accomplishments from young leaders that are leading the charge on environmental issues.”
In completing his certification, Tyler helped lead the organization of a campus Sustainability Fair held in partnership with his Student Union. He was able to connect students to local campus and community sustainable initiatives and promote simple activities that, over time, would have a larger impact on reducing waste on campus and their personal lives.
Throughout his experience, Tyler developed important soft skills including teamwork, organization, time management, and event planning. More importantly, learning about habit changes and mobilizing others around contributing to a more sustainable future, was a skill in itself. “The process to becoming a Living Planet Leader is mind-opening and allows you to connect with other leaders concerned about protecting our planet.”
Reversing the decline of wildlife will take all of us. Communities. Industry. Governments. And you. Together, we can help create healthy native habitats and protect our country’s diverse species and ecosystems – now and for generations. Learn more about how you can contribute to your community and campus through the Living Planet Leader program here.