#SFTop25 finalist 2017 - Caroline Merner


Age: 22
Hometown: Victoria, British Columbia


Caroline grew up in Ottawa and moved to the west coast, where she was surrounded by the outdoors. Her admiration for nature grew into a desire to protect it and inspire others to do the same. She believes that when people are connected to places, they will naturally want to care for those places. She took this passion with her to the east coast, where she is currently finishing her undergraduate thesis at Dalhousie University on the psychology of climate change communication, focusing on ways to overcome barriers of communicating climate change to the public. Caroline’s activism is centered around three pillars; connection, conservation, and communication.

As Co-Director of the Dalhousie Student Union Sustainability Office, she played a pivotal role connecting students to environmental initiatives. She listened to students’ priorities, and was a student ambassador on the Dalhousie President’s Advisory Committee, representing 18,500 students on sustainability issues.

As a Youth Advisory Group Member for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Caroline has been working on conservation with youth across Canada. With a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Cape Breton, she helped build a plan for a circumnavigating trail around the Bras D’Or Lake. She also hiked the Lost Coast Trail to study biodiversity and brought her learnings back to her community.

Caroline also worked for a non-profit Impossible2Possible corresponding with up to 200 classrooms and as a peer mentor to students on a francophone cross-Canada cycling trip called “La Grande Traversée.” Personal growth and connections best happened when she was communicating through adventure and pushing perceived limits of what was possible.


She is constantly addressing ways in which her community can strive toward carbon neutrality as a way to tackle climate change. Caroline has acted as an ambassador for outdoor education and environmental sustainability in a number of roles throughout her time at Dalhousie, and has made a significant impact on the university.

Despite the seriousness of the environmental issues we are dealing with as environmentalists, Caroline remains light-hearted. She believes in shining a bright light to encourage other environmentalists to remain hopeful through connection, conservation, and communication.


  • Caroline attended the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii in September 2016 as a Canadian Commission of International Union for Conservation of Nature (CC-IUCN) Youth Ambassador.

  • Caroline helped plan a workshop about Youth Engagement in Marine Protected Areas aboard a ship to Greenland and at the International Marine Protected Areas Congress in Chile. She facilitates roundtable discussion about youth challenges and opportunities in parks.

  • She was Co-Director for the Dalhousie Student Union Sustainability Office where she has made a significant impact on the university through projects including Divest Dal.