Having completed an undergraduate degree in biodiversity at McMaster University, Kirstin Silvera is in her first year of a Masters in Environmental Studies at York University. The program offers a link to Osgood Hall Law School, through which she hopes to become an environmental lawyer.
Prior to starting her current degree, she was working for Green Venture, a not-for-profit group in Hamilton dedicated to raising environmental awareness. She developed and managed educational programming, worked on a home weatherization retrofit program and researched local at-risk species.
Her experience with groups like Green Venture has inspired her to want to empower similar groups in the future. “My goal is to get into policy ... in order to try to make changes so that it’s easier for smaller groups to do more. If I was an environmental lawyer, I would like to do pro bono work for non-profits against corporations,” she said.
Silvera’s undergraduate degree included research on an at-risk species of turtles at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Through use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, she was able to monitor the turtles. In the summer following the year of research and monitoring, she worked with RBG, and she was able to follow through on many of the recommendations she had made.
Her experience also includes work with the Bay Area Restoration Council in Hamilton, membership on McMaster’s Biodiversity Guild and volunteer work as Alternative Transportation Coordinator for MacGreen, a student organization. With the last of these, she planned campus events, worked on outreach and piloted an on-campus “rent-a-bike” program.
Through working with various groups, Silvera has seen the importance of connecting organizations working on similar projects to concentrate environmental efforts.
Be it for not-for-profit groups or at-risk species, she hopes that her future work in law and policy will provide help. “I want to be a voice for things that can’t necessarily speak for themselves,” she said.