Ontario Nature hosted their 10th annual Youth Summit for biodiversity and environmental leadership for high school students near Orillia by Lake Couchiching on Sept. 20-22.
Every year the Lennox & Addington Stewardship Council sponsors a high school student to attend the summit. This years candidate was Pareza Tahamtan, a local gardener, avid hiker and active participant in her school and in her greater community.
Friends of the Salmon River also sponsored two students to attend the Youth Summit this season.
“What stood out for us was Pareza’s sense of commitment,” said Susan Moore, secretary with the Lennox & Addington Stewardship Council. “The Youth Summit is an environmental leadership program and the goal of the summit is for students to acquire the inspiration and tools to take action and leadership in their communities and beyond. The Lennox & Addington Stewardship Council is confident that Pareza can rise to this challenge.”
Tahamtan, a Forest Mills area youth, lives on a beautiful part of the Salmon River watershed and loves and appreciates the world of nature. She is a Grade 10 student at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School in Kingston and graciously helped her grandparents plant hundreds of tree seedlings to reforest their properties.
While at the summit Tahamtan took five workshops which included topics such as Bringing on Biodiversity where they talked about how to incorporate the biodiversity campaign to their home town as well as planned and made campaigns to encourage everyone in their city/town to take action and respect the earth.
The second workshop Tahamtan attended was Freshwater Life, where she learned about the animals that live in the water and caught some for their own experience.
“We discussed specifically different animals and how they help biodiversity and the importance of them,” Tahamtan stated. “We then got a chance to catch some animals in the water and talk about our findings.”
The third workshop she attended was Medicinal Plants of Ontario where they discussed different medicinal plants in their areas and how to use those leaves to help them, as well as made and learned how to make a cream used to help heal small cuts, bruises, mosquito bits and acne.
Wild About Birds at Geneva Park was the fourth workshop Tahamtan attended and learned about different birds and their habitat and also got to experience and learn how to determine an owl’s previous meal by their pellets.
The fifth and final workshop was Be The Change where they learned about how much waste humans use in day to day life and how much resources are wasted. They were also taught how to live a life without wasting earth’s resources on things they don’t need.
“Based on all these workshops I attended throughout the two days, I learned how important and beautiful our earth is and how much we need to protect it,” Tahamtan expressed. “I really fell in love with the environment over the weekend and how much I care for the earth and all its plants and animals. I now see how much it is worth fighting for and what I have to do in order to make a difference.”
In addition to spending time outdoors some highlights of the summit include a networking forum for participants to connect and share ideas with local youth, A high energy Great Group Challenge that had participants facing off in eco-inspired challenges as well as meeting diverse young leaders with similar interests from across Ontario.
“My overall experience was amazing and I loved every second of it,” Tahamtan told the Beaver. “I took advantage of going for a night hike, waking up at sunrise, going canoeing and a thrill of doing the polar bear plunge at sunrise. I also absolutely loved taking place in the “Great Group Challenge” where different coloured teams compete through games for the Great Group Challenge Cup. I would like to thank L&A Stewardship as this whole experience wouldn’t have been possible without them.”