A first in Eastern Ontario – South Nation Conservation (SNC) hosted a three-day student conference last October, bringing students together to learn more about growing environmental challenges.

The St. Lawrence River Student Summit, the first of its kind, brought nearly 100 high school students together to learn about their local environment, get hands-on experience of local issues and unite to come up with potential solutions to problems like the lack of proper treed habitat along watercourses.

A video was recently shared by the Conservation Authority, which highlights some of the Summit activities, including: invasive species removal, a boat cruise along the St. Lawrence River, leadership certification, and water quality testing workshops.

“We hope that this video showcases the need for education on the protection and proper management of natural resources in Eastern Ontario, and inspires youth to tackle environmental challenges in their own communities,” says John Mesman, SNC’s Team Lead, Communications and Outreach.

Mesman also adds that “this partnership is an important one.” Support was provided by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s Great Lakes Office, and emphasis was placed on using the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River ecosystem as a context for learning.

“Water resources in the St. Lawrence River originate much further upstream in waterbodies like Lake Ontario. Understanding that – what happens upstream, will trickle downstream – was an important take-away message.”

“Students also learned about the connectivity between ecosystems and watersheds and they used their new-found knowledge to pitch project and program ideas.”

A panel of St. Lawrence and Great Lakes decision-makers assembled on the third and final day of the Summit at Fort Henry, in Kingston, to hear the students’ pitches on ways to enhance the value of riparian cover throughout the region.

The Summit was designed for students enrolled in a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program at three participating school boards (Limestone, Ottawa-Carleton and Upper Canada).

SHSM allows students to focus their learning by working with a community partner to get real-world experience in a specific economic sector.

Be sure to check out the video at: www.nation.on.ca/resources/watershed-education/st-lawrence-river-student-summit

FOR MORE INFORMATION: John Mesman, 1-877-984-2948 ext. 302, [email protected].