SYC is recruiting ExComm members!

Call-out: Applications for the Sierra Youth Coalition’s Executive Committee 2016-2017

We are looking for dedicated, empowered and proactive youth leaders to apply for a seat on the Sierra Youth Coalition’s Executive Committee!

What is ExComm?

The Executive Committee (affectionately known as the ExComm) is SYC’s official decision-making body. Composed of 9 enthusiastic youth from across the country, the ExComm is responsible for shaping SYC’s direction, organizational governance and supporting the staff team. A minimum of one member is between the ages of 14-18 and all are under 30.

There are 8 seats available for the 2016-2017 term with 1 reserved for a youth between the ages of 14-18. The ExComm is an active board, so expect to devote anywhere from 2-4 hours a week to SYC activities. Most of our work is done through e-mail, conference calls and occasional events.

All ExComm members must be 30 years of age or younger at the time of applying. Under our new rules, ExComm members serve for two years. Half of the incoming members this year will serve for one-year terms however, to ensure staggered terms in future (term lengths will be determined by lot). No person can be appointed to the ExCom for more than three consecutive two-year terms.

We are particularly interested in diversifying the skill-set and perspectives within ExComm. If you have marketing, accounting, communications, graphic design, environmental policy, grassroots advocacy or finance experience you’d be a great asset to the team.

How to run for an ExComm position for the 2016-2017 term in 2 easy steps:

1. If you are not already a member, sign up for a Sierra Club Canada Foundation (SCCF) membership – youth category. This is a $25.00, tax deductible membership fee.

Please send your CV and a short bio (10-15 lines) to

Short-listed candidates will then be contacted for an interview. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, but we are looking to establish an Executive Committee for the 2016-2017 period as soon as possible!


Seed Saving at the University of Ottawa

Good things come in small packages. This saying has proven true many times, but was especially true at a seed saving workshop in late August.

Greta, from Greta's Organic Seeds taught a group of University of Ottawa Students and SYC staff  how to save seeds!

Greta, from Greta’s Organic Seeds taught a group of University of Ottawa Students and SYC staff how to save seeds!

The University of Ottawa Student Learning Garden and Sustainability Office welcomed Greta from Greta’s Organic Seeds to share her knowledge of saving seeds.

Greta shared knowledge and passed on skills of how to preserve the basis of most of human foods – seeds. 9 out of every 10 bite comes from a seed, and saving seeds promotes biodiversity and resilience in our food system. Moreover, saving a diversity of seeds can lead to some of the most colourful and flavourful plants, fruits and vegetables known!

Saving Tomato Seeds is easy and fun!  1. Find your favourite tomato  2. Squeeze out the juice and seeds into a glass jar  3. Add a bit of water and let the jar sit for 5 days 4. Pour out the juice and save the remaining seeds (at the bottom of the jar) 5. Place seeds on a plate to dry 6. Put seeds in a safe, dry place and plant them next season!

Saving Tomato Seeds is easy and fun!
1. Find your favourite tomato
2. Squeeze out the juice and seeds into a jar
3. Add a bit of water and let sit for 5 days
4. Pour out the juice and save the remaining seeds (at the bottom of the jar)
5. Place seeds on a plate to dry
6. Put seeds in a safe, dry place and plant them next season!

For more information, there are incredible organizations, networks and resources available to support seed savers across Canada. Check them out here:  The Seed Ambassadors Project, Seeds of Diversity, USC Canada

Student Stories from the Field!

Melanie on her way to the BC Food Systems Network

Melanie on her way to the BC Food Systems Network

SYC’s student leaders inspire us every day. And it turns out, they are inspired too! The following is a reflection from UNBC’s Campus Food Strategy Group Coordinator and a local food hero! 

Melanie’s Reflections: 

My name is Melanie Anderson, and I have been involved in the Campus Food Strategy Project since January 2014 at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, B.C. My experience working with Sierra Youth Coalition and Meal Exchange has been amazing and their continual support has driven a vast majority of the positive changes surrounding food at my University Campus. 


Recently, from June 26th to June 29th I was fortunate enough to attend the 16th annual BC Food Systems gathering in Sorrento with Nitha Karanja, the Healthy Communities Coordinator at UNBC. Though I am currently living in Prince George, I am originally from Ontario, so I have not had the opportunity to travel much around British Columbia. When the opportunity arose to drive through B.C. to a food network gathering I was delighted to partake in the experience.


The focus of this years gathering was Revisiting our Roots: Honouring Our Bio-Cultural Heritage. The three day program featured informative workshops, interactive sessions, and discussions on various topics including, Indigenous land and food systems, farms, and and water protection, seed saving, GMO awareness, year of the Family Farm, and biodiversity. 


As it was my first time attending the annual BC food systems gathering it was great to meet and interact with the key players involved with food issues in B.C. Overall I enjoyed the experience and the new relationships I have built will help me further my work at UNBC. Next year the gathering is being held in the North, so myself along with the other CFSG coordinator are eager to be involved with the planning and possibly even running a session of our own surrounding food systems in Northern B.C. As a Campus Food Strategy Coordinator I am excited to share my knowledge and past experiences while working on food initiatives in the North. 

Edible Campuses

Summer is a time to get outside, to dig our toes into the soil and be amazed, once again, at the amazing colours of pollinators and plants. SYC has the great fortune of supporting 11 campuses across the country with their campus gardens! 

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Le point sur l’alimentation locale: les écoles, campus et établissements de santé s’expriment

F2C Photo 40-1Selon un sondage publié aujourd’hui, intitulé  Le point sur l’alimentation locale – les écoles, campus et établissements de santés’expriment (2013) les actions pour approvisionner les organismes publics en aliments sains, cultivés localement et de manière responsable prennent de l’ampleur dans pratiquement toutes les provinces et tous les territoires du pays. Et l’appétit va grandissant.

Ce rapport est le premier et unique sondage pancanadien sur le sujet. Pas moins de 239 spécialistes en alimentation et en nutrition œuvrant dans les écoles, les campus et les établissements de santé ont répondu à un questionnaire à propos des avancées de l’approvisionnement local. La recherche révèle qu’un nombre significatif d’organismes publics au pays travaillent sur plusieurs fronts afin d’offrir davantage d’aliments locaux aux étudiants et aux patients.

Pour en savoir plus, visitez le site internet du Campus Food Systems Project. 

Local Food: Canadian Schools, Campuses and Health Care Facilities Speak Up

F2C Photo 40-1

According to new report commissioned by Farm to Cafeteria Canada, activity to bring healthy, local and sustainable foods into public agencies is gearing up in almost every province and territory in Canada – and there is a hunger for more.

The Report- Local Foods- Canadian schools, campuses, and health care facilities speak up (2013) is the first pan-Canadian survey of its kind. In all, 239 food and nutrition specialists working within schools, campuses, and healthcare facilities answered questions about efforts to bring local food into their institutions. The responses show that a significant number of public agencies in Canada are working along multiple fronts to put more local foods on patient and student plates

“Students ask – Is it local? Is it fresh? They have a much higher expectation of their dining experience. They want fresh, healthy, local and seasonal food – food that keeps them alert, active and focused” says Steve Golob, Chef at the University of British Columbia’s Vanier Place Dining Hall and member of Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s Advisory Committee.

SYC is helping to build awareness, education and action across Canadian Campuses through its work with Meal Exchange and the Campus Food Systems Project. Find out more by visiting our website or contacting

Creative Solutions to Campus Food Waste

Often when we think about the food system we think about the process of getting food from farm to plate – the planning, planting, production, harvesting, processing, distribution, marketing and preparation of food. But what happens to the food that gets wasted along the way and the food that gets left on our plates?
Unfortunately, close to half of all food produced worldwide is wasted — discarded in processing, transport, supermarkets and kitchens. On campuses, this waste is often transported off of campus which results in transportation greenhouse gases in addition to the methane emissions produced by landfills. Food waste is discouraging and costly for campuses – which is motivating campus dining halls to find new and innovative ways of reducing waste.

Mt. Allison's Food Waste Campaign

Mt. Allison’s Food Waste Campaign

During their East Coast Campus tour, the Campus Food Systems Project National Coordinators Caitlin and Sarah saw how campuses were taking creative and diverse approaches to reduce waste.

  •  Memorial University conducted an audit to determine how much waste was being generated and ways to reduce waste produced.
  • St. FX found that going trayless is a great way to reduce the amount of food wasted and is saving 80 000 gallons of water used in the cafeterias annually.
  • Dalhousie installed scraping stations which help build awarness of food waste and encourage students to only take the amount of food they plan to eat. Scraping stations are a part of the Green Report Card where Dalhousie received an “A” grade for food and recycling. Mt. Allison found scraping stations have decreased food waste by 44% over the past five years.
  • Campuses are also finding creative ways to reduce and reuse campus food waste. Mt. Allison puts the organic food separated at its scraping stations through a food pulper to remove 88-90% of its waste. This is then sent to the twin Big Hanna composters which will be used on campus grounds.

These are just a few of the many creative solutions campuses are finding to build awareness about and actively reduce and reuse food waste. We’d love to hear other ideas and initiatives – feel free to send questions, comments and ideas to us

Welcome SYC’s New Campus Food Systems Coordinator!

Since fall 2011, Dana Lahey has been co-coordinating the Campus Food Systems Project with Caitlin Colson from Meal Exchange. This project works with 9 campuses across Canada to help students improve the multi-stakeholder organizing, procurement practices, and applied student research for the food systems on their campuses. Dana has new and exciting opportunities ahead of him and will be working with SYC one day per week from Austin, Texas.

To continue on with Dana’s great work from Ottawa, we’re pleased to announce that Sarah Archibald has joined the SYC team!

Sarah is no stranger to food systems as she has farmed in 5 countries, spent four years studying Global Food Systems and Agro-Ecological Agriculture and has volunteered and worked with a variety of food security and food sovereignty-focused organizations.  Sarah also has campus food systems experience as she was a volunteer, researcher and then coordinator with the McGill Food Systems Project, which is how she met Dana four years ago!

Sarah’s excited to work and share with the inspiring Campus Food Strategy Groups, the SYC and Meal Exchange teams as well as many other individuals, groups and organization.

Sarah’s always open to ideas, conversations and new recipes! Feel free to contact her at

Black Out Speak Out Teach-in


Speak out on June 4, 2012 in defence of two core Canadian values: nature and democracy.

Join over 13,000 website owners representing millions of Canadians as we darken our websites in protest against efforts to silence your voice. Blacking out your site does not require you to shut it down for the day. You will have the option of inserting a splash page that will cover your homepage while maintaining the functionality of your site.

For more information visit

Give youth a voice! Support SYC as we strive to empower young people to become active community leaders who contribute to making Canada a better society. Make a donation today or sign up for a membership!


Check out this awesome event – free for students!

WHERE: St Paul University, 223 Main Street, Ottawa
WHEN: Wednesday, May 30 at 7:00 PM- 9:00 PM
WHO: Elizabeth May (Green), Kirsty Duncan (Liberal), Megan Leslie (NDP) and, Stephan Hazell (Environmental Law Expert)
WHAT: The event is a panel discussion to raise awareness about the environmental implications of the 2012 Federal Budget bill (C-38). The audience can ask the panel questions regarding the Budget bill, in order to better understand its future effect on Canada’s natural environment.

Seating is limited so reserve a seat today by calling 613-241-4611.

SYC partners in the newly launched Sustainability and Education Policy Network

Professor Marcia McKenzieMarcia McKenzie, from the University of Saskatchewan Department of Educational Foundations and School of Environment and Sustainability, leads a $3 million initiative called the Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN). The network is exploring new models to improve how environmental sustainability is taught and practiced in schools, universities, and other educational institutions.

“Climate change, new environmental technologies, energy and water sustainability are not solely technical issues,” McKenzie says. “They are also cultural and political challenges. To respond to these challenges, we need integrated solutions that depend on and assume a citizenry that is both informed and motivated.”

Although environmental issues are often prominent in the news and public discourse, there is little knowledge about how these issues are being taught and lived, and what policies are driving the lessons. Part of the challenge is the number of players involved – everyone from provincial governments and their ministries, to school boards, university administrations, and even not-for-profit environmental groups – many of whose efforts are uncoordinated with the others.

To address this, SEPN academic partners include York University and Lakehead University, and organizational partners include the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the David Suzuki Foundation, Learning for a Sustainable Future, and the Sierra Youth Coalition. Six other groups are contributing to the project: the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Office, the Sustainability Solutions Group, the Global Youth Education Network, Ecosource, and the Canadian Federation of Students.

SEPN will begin by analyzing existing policy concerned with environmental sustainability in provincial ministries of education, federal First Nations’ school administration, and post-secondary institutions. From there, the researchers will conduct community-based site analyses to see how these policies are experienced in the classroom, in how organizations conduct their operations, and by the broader community. With this knowledge in hand, the network plans to develop a set of best practices and policies to engage decision-makers in furthering environmental sustainability efforts across the country through education.

For more information visit