Since Kirstin was last in the Top 25 in 2011 for her efforts to raise environmental awareness at McMaster and the greater Hamilton community, she has begun Law School at the University of Windsor en route to her goal of becoming an environmental lawyer. Last summer, she spent three and a half months in Costa Rica volunteering with the Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation, where she was involved in their sea turtle conservation program and their mammal-monitoring program. Additionally, she conducted research during her trip for her Master’s in Environmental Studies, which she will be completing this summer at York University. The aim of her research project is to determine what impact, if any, scientific research projects, specifically species at risk research projects, have on policies and laws in Costa Rica, using Costa Rica’s Tortuguero region as a microcosm/ case study. Such an impact on policy should be especially telling in Costa Rica, a country heavily reliant on ecology and ecotourism.
Last year, while at York University, Kirstin worked for the Climate Consortium for Research Action and Integration (CC-RAI). CC-RAI is a group that aims to accelerate regional action on climate change by fostering high-quality regional climate research, building capacity through training, and acting as a catalyst for collaborative action. With them she executed outreach events for York climate change specialists and students, and researched and reported on research synergies between York University and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.
Currently, she volunteers with the Canadian Environmental Law Association and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, where she conducts research on various environmental statutes and laws. Additionally, Kirstin acts as a volunteer case worker for Community Legal Aid and for Pro Bono Students Canada, where she is helping to create a public interest law career guide that makes it easier for students to find non-traditional paths as lawyers.
At the University of Windsor, she has focused a large part of her efforts on engaging the student body to recognize the connections between environmental and Aboriginal law. This initiative culminated with a teach-in event titled “Idle Know More”. At the teach-in, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members of the University of Windsor community discussed the history of treaties in Canada, the genesis and goals of Idle No More, what is at stake for non-Aboriginal people and the environment, and the future of this important social movement.
Kirstin looks forward to her second year of law school, where she will be vice president of the Environmental Law Society for the upcoming 2013-2014 year.
Through her ongoing efforts, she hopes to continue to be a voice for the environment in more ways than one.