Holly Nesbitt's affinity for the water and love for the outdoors is what scored her a place on this year’s Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 list.
Her admiration for the aquatic life developed over her lifetime. “My summers were spent essentially existing as part girl, part fish, never wanting to get out of the lake at my parents’ cottage in Ontario,” Holly noted in her application. “As I got older, I spent a substantial amount of time on wilderness canoe trips throughout northern Canada, developing a curiosity in how the natural world works, especially as it pertains to water.” When it came time to pick something for her post-grad education, she chose Queen’s University and studied decreased sea-ice extent on the Beaufort Sea as a result of climate change. Her published results have since informed management decisions - to establish baseline conditions for a delicate Arctic environment before the oil industry impacts the area.
She’s combined her research experience with outdoor education. Since the age of 19, she’s been a canoe trip leader at Camp Wanapitei. It’s not your typical adventure – the trips take place in northern Ontario and Quebec and range from 3 to 25 days. At the age of 18, students are taken on a 52-day northern Canada trip in the Arctic. It’s these trips that reinforced Holly's environmental values. As she wrote, “I’ve taught kids for 5 summers now about canoeing and camping in the wilderness – from no trace camping, to appreciating the outdoors, to protecting the environment, to a sparse and simple way of life. These were lessons I learned from my leaders and what inspired me to pursue a career in environmental management and protection. I think one of the greatest things we can do is pass on this passion and hope to inspire others to take on the task of living their lives in an environmentally conscientious manner.”
Currently, she’s completing a Masters degree at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management. She’s still in the water, studying how biodiversity promotes the stability of First Nation fisheries on the Fraser River. Here, Holly’s learning to love environmental policy and law, and hoping to be able to take a multi-dimensional approach to environmental issues.
Holly's not sure where life will lead her. Whether it’s a PhD in sustainable fisheries management, or sitting on the Board of Directors at Wanapitei, I have no doubt that she’ll be able to move mountains.