Ontario's Jayden Rae is getting youth outside.

Photo from Jayden Rae.

Photo from Jayden Rae.

AGE: 16

 With an impressive resume, including an expedition to the Antarctic, committee chair of the Ontario Nature Youth Council, and founder of the Whitby Environmental Youth Alliance, it is hard to believe that Jayden Rae is only sixteen years old!

 Her childhood was spent exploring the natural environment around her - the very environment in which she finds her sense of place. Unfortunately, not everyone in her generation feels connected to nature, which is what has led her to become so involved in her community, and bringing youth to the outdoors. Her commitment and passion for the environment came about while working as a legislative page. After realizing that the environment was not a priority for the government, she decided to make it a priority for her.

Jayden had been a member of the Ontario Nature Youth Council since 2011 and contributes her time as the Events Committee Chair, where she helps to coordinate stewardship events for Earth Week. She also sits on the Durham SustainAbility Youth Steering Committee, where she is developing environmental lesson plans that will help compliment the current Ontario curriculum. This year, she was also accepted as a youth member of the Durham Environmental Advisory Committee. The roles she holds in local government allows her to push for environmental action in a space where she has previously seen little action, and this also allows her to give a youthful perspective that is often overlooked.

This gap is what led her to founding The Whitby Environmental Youth Alliance (WEYA), a youth initiated organization that gives youth the opportunity to develop the public speaking, organizational, communication, and planning skills they will need in the future. Events they have organized include an Earth Day Tree planting, community outreach programs during Earth Hour, invasive species removals, gardening, community clean-ups, and biodiversity counts. The groups also coordinated with municipal politicians, contributed to the Town of Whitby Youth Strategy, and filmed an eco-documentary for the Whitby Film Festival.

Jayden’s work with ecology and the environment is just getting started. In the future, she plans to study political science and environmental studies at university, and intern at a not-for-profit law firm.  This internship will be a stepping stone for her on her way to law school, after which she plans to become an environmental lawyer. Jayden’s dream is to travel to all the Canadian national parks and document the cultural and ecological difference through photographs. She wants to use her creativity to document the Canadian wilderness so she can “share with others what we can’t afford to lose.”