Sarah Newton is #10 on our Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 list.
As a child growing up near Vancouver, Sarah was struck by the contrast between the urbanized lifestyle of the city and the wilderness that surrounded her home. Now, she hopes that her work can repair the disconnect between the two.
“Building a stronger connection between people and nature has become my passion and life’s work,” she said. “It has been my spiritual connection to the Earth that has been the biggest driver in my choices and motivation to make the world a better place for all those that walk, crawl, fly or grow on the planet.”
As she grew older, she moved a province over to Alberta, where she witnessed the environmental toll of the oil and gas industry, as well as the motivations behind it. So she continued east, settling in Saskatchewan for a time to plant trees.
For her Northern Outdoor and Environmental Studies diploma from Yukon College, which she completed this year, Sarah was able to build upon knowledge she had gained from more southern universities. Through both laboratory and field experience, Sarah studied botany and ornithology, and she gained expertise in outdoor trip planning and vegetation.
Her recent projects have also been focused in the Yukon. Under climatologist Bob Sagar, Sarah has been studying historical weather data in the territory, searching for patterns in weather condition changes over the last 100 years. She has informed visitors on Yukon ecosystems through her work with the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, and worked to protect sensitive regions from urban development with the Yukon Conservation Society. Sarah has also been involved with the Executive Council of the Green Party of Canada.
Sarah has become part of community movements in the Yukon as well. Recognizing the environmental footprint that goes into supplying her territory’s residents with food, she became one of the youngest people involved with Growers of Organic Food Yukon.
Sarah has shown a particular interest in connecting the environment to the indigenous cultures that inhabit it. “She believes that protecting the natural world will come from people who are connected to it,” said Amanda Graham, Sarah’s nominator and instructor at Yukon College. “She sees ethnobotany as a key to leading people to understand that they are not separated from their environment and to learn to value the natural as Indigenous people have done for millennia.”
Now that she and her partner are raising a young son, Sarah has become especially sensitive to the responsibilities her generation has to future ones. “I completely believe that by building community and educating people, we can turn the juggernaut of fossil fuel dependence and create a better future and better communities for our children,” she said.