HOMETOWN: Victoria, British Columbia
TRADITIONAL TERRITORY: Unceded Lekwungen (now known as Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations) territory.
Caroline Merner is an emerging youth leader in sustainability and youth engagement, whose passion, grace, and enthusiasm is truly infectious. As her nominator wrote to us: “We need people like Caroline to inspire and encourage us to keep pushing for a more sustainable future – she is the perfect cheerleader for the young environmental leaders that she is always fighting for.”
Currently, Caroline is the Youth Program Coordinator for Ocean Bridge, where she is facilitating a cohort of 40 youth passionate about ocean conservation and coordinating expeditions with the first year in Haida Gwaii.
In addition, Caroline and her co-Director, Marina Melanidis, developed and launched Climate Guides, a climate change mentorship program for youth. Climate Guides was the result of Caroline’s idea to build opportunities where youth can be meaningful climate actors.
Climate Guides’ vision is to “contribute to a positive narrative on tackling climate change by fostering partnerships that generate optimistic solutions to benefit our community and our planet.”
Caroline developed and launched this initiative within the span of four months, and is currently running the first program cohort with her two teammates.
Caroline is incredibly passionate about connecting people to the environment, especially young people. When she noticed the lack of opportunities for young climate leaders to access the necessary resources and networks to develop climate change solutions and grow their careers, she decided to create one. Independently, Caroline sourced out funding for the initiative that would grow to become Climate Guides and launch the program in Vancouver in January 2018.
The outcome of Climate Guides is one that combines climate action with community-building. Tangibly, at the end of the program participating mentees will have implemented a collection of projects that address climate change in a variety of fields.
Beyond that, the outcome of Climate Guides is a community of change-makers that will continue to share resources, initiatives, and collaborate towards a more sustainable future beyond the conclusion of the program. Climate Guides shifts the climate change narrative from one of doom-and-gloom to one of opportunity and community, one mentorship pair at a time.
What all of Caroline’s incredible work has in common is her consistent focus on increasing opportunities for youth engagement in environmentalism, which she does with enthusiasm, kindness and by building community. As her nominator told us: “She is a light in the doom-and-gloom discourse that all too often surrounds the environmental field, and she demonstrates the power that positivity and connection can have when tackling complicated problems.”