Better late than never…

Hi everyone,

We haven’t been doing the greatest job lately of updating our blog… And I think it’s high time to fill you in as to why! We’ve been going through some changes lately, mostly around staffing. If you follow us on Facebook or on Twitter you’ll know about one of them already. Tracey Guptill, National Sustainable Campuses Coordinator, moved on to new pastures (quite literally – she moved to an organic dairy farm before embarking on travels to India). In her place, we now have Sarah English, who is taking on the Coordinator duties while performing an evaluation of the project. Sarah is a former Sustainability Coordinator at Wilfrid Laurier University, and she’s bringing a great perspective to the project! We’re glad to have her on board.

Another change we have had is the departure of our National Director, Mark Hanlon. Mark has moved back to the beautiful isle of Newfoundland, and will be keeping up with his passion for the environment on a more local level. Mark contributed a great deal to SYC over his tenure as ND, and we are excited about what he’ll be up to on the Rock! In his absence, I will be taking on the role of Interim National Director. I’m looking forward to working will all of you in my new role, and continuing to work with high school students and teachers through the Sustainable High Schools Project. If you have any ideas for projects or events, or if you’re interested in volunteering with SYC, feel free to contact me at director[at]

Sustainably yours,
Gabriela Rappell
Interim National Director
Sierra Youth Coalition

Is our canned tuna, actually tuna??

For those canned tuna lovers, I hope you can prepare yourself for what’s next…
Alright so Greenpeace did some research to investigate the species of
fish that actually makes it  into that little can of so called tuna;
and turns out that the majority of the major canned tuna brands, such
as Clover Leaf and The Canadian Fishing Company (Gold Seal), have LESS
than 45% of actual tuna in it. Now doesn’t that make you wonder what
else could possibly be in there?
When the fishers set their huge net in the Ocean to catch tuna, it
isn’t the only species that gets caught in their net. Species such as
Marine Turtles, Sharks, Rays and even Seabirds! Because they are such
in a rush to get as much fish as they possibly can, they don’t think
of at least putting back in the water the wrong animals in the net.  I
used to eat “tuna” before, so I don’t anymore, but it just makes me a
little sad to think I could have eaten a turtle or a seabird! I am
happy that someone is doing something about this issue and who better
than Greenpeace. Everyone has their own opinion on whether or not
things are good or bad, but reading what Greenpeace found out, will
help clear your head on how unsustainable a lot of major companies
actually are.
So I ask to please take 2 minutes to read about the canned tuna issue:

– Latisha C.

Sustainable High School Co-op Student

Everything you should know to VOTE!

…you’re sitting at home , there’s three days left before election deadline and you suddenly realize ” I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO VOTE!” well don’t worry has you covered! Just enter your postal code and it will direct you to your riding. To find out where to vote look to the right under frequently asked questions and click ‘where do I vote?’. They will tell you where to vote and how long the polls are open ’til.

If you are a new voter like me there are some things that you will need to bring to the polling station in order to be able to vote. You will need to bring ID that contains your home address, your name and a photo of you (health card, driver’s license or a combination of other id’s). To find out all possible pieces of ID visit

Remember to vote May 2!

Megan 😀

Diary Of a New Voter – Strategic Voting

There are so many things to consider! Only 4 days left until election day. I think I have made my decision, I want my vote to make a change, and don’t want my vote to go to waste. I think that is something a lot of people think about. But sometimes a vote may not make a difference in your riding, maybe it can in another riding, but what can you do about that? In swoops the strategic vote! And! I vote for the party of another’s choice in my riding (where that party has a better chance than mine) and they take my party of choice and vote in their riding (where mine has a chance), and hopefully there are no wasted votes! Say I want to vote for the NDP in my riding but NDP is down Tories are up and Liberals are close behind. In my strategic voting partners riding ,NDP is up and Tories are close, but Liberals are really lacking support. He/She wants to vote Liberal, and I’m voting NDP  but they wont make a difference where we are, so we do a switcheroo of who we are voting for so that Liberals can be elected in my riding and NDP can be elected in His/Her riding, and both parties win a seat in parliament, we both win. The only problem is there is no way to ensure that the other person voted for who you wanted, you will just have to put your trust in this person to do the right thing. In the end the only way to ensure a vote for your party is to vote for them yourself. Whether you vote strategically or not, don’t forget to vote MAY 2nd! and check out the SYC-CJS 1vote Challenge

Megan 😀 happy voting!

2011 debate – A new voter’s perspective

Megan Stewart

I’m rubber, you’re glue – whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you! I remember saying that when I was a kid, and I didn’t want to admit something. It reminded me of the debate – was there even a question that really got answered? Either way I learned a little bit about each candidate, Harpers favourite word just might be ECONOMY.

I went into the debate thinking that a few lucky people’s questions would get answered but all I heard was all of the party leaders being accused by each other of lying, and not doing their job – among other things. Harper never really answered questions, only vaguely talked about things related to the question. Ignatieff always called Harper on not answering questions but never really answered how he would solve the problem, only talked about what the problem was. Layton came the closest to answering the questions, but usually just ended up telling Harper what he would have done in the “old days”. And Duceppe wasn’t so bad, but he was just talking about Quebec.

No matter the nature of the question it somehow always seemed to go back to the economy, or how Harper isn’t the best suited to be Prime Minister of Canada. Out of all the questions selected there was nothing related to any youth issues, nor environmental issues.  And they wonder why so many young people don’t bother voting.

I’m back from Costa Rica  and it was the trip of a life time. All 8 days were packed full of amazing things to do, and with a guide like Verny, it couldn’t have been better.  Some of the things we did while there: Visited EARTH University (Universidad EARTH) visited the banana plantation, took a hike through the rain forest and saw some scary spiders, and also some amazing howler monkeys up in the canopy of the trees. We also visited their animal farms where they research, implement, and learn the best ways to take care of their livestock. We also ate in their cafeteria which was beautifully decorated with flowers, trees, and gardens along with some rather cute and speedy salamanders scurrying about the rafters. Since the weather is so good out there the cafeteria did  not have any glass in the windows, so we were able to eat  our beans and rice outside in the  fresh air.

After two days at Universidad Earth we had to say despedida y pura vida (farewell and pura vida which you use to convey happiness or wellness ). So we packed out bags and prepared for a long hike and two exciting days in the rain forest at the Rios Tropicales lodge.Before heading to the lodge we first dropped off our big suitcases at the Rios Tropicales operation centre, and headed to an elementary school down the street where we planted a garden in front of the principals office and then headed over to see the children perform some skits for us, and then we gave them some of the school supplies that we brought from home . Then we set out for the rain forest. To get there we needed to take an hour long tractor ride and hike down into the rain forest. When we finally arrived at the lodge we rushed into our bathing suits and jumped into a waterfall to cool off. We then retreated to the hammocks to watch the beautiful blue water flow down the river before we started on dinner, which was of course more rice and beans! Day four was an exciting day, the two other schools we went with were allowed to go zip lining unfortunately my school was not but we made our own fun skipping rocks into the river and exploring! After the zip lining we hiked a little through the mountains to get to a bucket which we took two by two across the river to get to our beautiful horses. When I made eye contact with my horse I knew it was going to be mine, it was meant to be because I later found out her name was Johnny (my uncles name ). We rode the horses to protected land where we planted new trees to help, and diversify the land.  After the tree planting we rode our horses to a beautiful family run butterfly farm. After the butterfly farm we ate lunch and visited a small school with only one room and approximately 10 children. while there we painted rocks and played with the kids. After that we sadly had to say despedida to our caballos (horses) and made a 1.5 hour treck down a rocky slippery mountainside, back to the bucket. we continued walking back to to our lodge but only after making a pit stop at a beautiful little hidden waterfall.

The next four days were filled with awesome adventures sloth’s, monkeys, beaches, tasty food, and a little bit of ocean rescue ( thank-you Verny and Sue), and A LOT of sitting on the bus and plane.

Thank-you to all the teachers and everyone for coming and to Mrs.Newsome because we wouldnt have had a trip with out you.

Megan, below are some picture from my trip enjoy 🙂

International Women’s Day

Today is the 100th Aniversary of International Women’s Day. Women’s right’ s have been ignored for a long time . In the Early 1900’s women decided that they had had enough and started demanding change.  In 1908  15,000 women marched through New York city demanding better pay, more hours and the right to vote. Although they did not get the right to vote for another 12 years it sparked change- soon after Clara Zetkin had the idea to have a day where women and their rights and accomplishments were recognized around the world. This is how National Women’s day(US) emerged, and then International women’s day in 1911. By 1914 IWD was to always fall on the 8th of March.  Since 1911 Events have been held around world to celebrate women.

Now 100 years later we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of IWD. We as women have come far, and will undoubtedly go further. In 100 years we have many rights that we did not have before, we can vote, and are able to work many places. Still, discrimination against women happens frequently and many women feel they are not recognized as equal to men. There are many places where you can see that women aren’t as established as they could or should be, for example in government only 5.7% of the worlds 191 nations have women in power.  This is not set in stone, there is nothing saying that there can’t be more women than men in government. Now all we have to do is go for it because we can accomplish anything we want!

So fellow women, enjoy the day that celebrates us being us and never stop following your dreams! Have a good IWD everyone!

Eco trip to Costa Rica only 14 days to go!

So I am down to the last two weeks before my (first) trip. I’ll be heading to San Jose, Costa Rica on March 16. On the first day we will be visiting a VERY special little university called EARTH University. Next we will be hiking up to the cabin where we will be spending the next 8 days together. After that, the next few days will be filled with new experiences like horse back riding, hiking, canoeing, and more. I’ll be sure to take as many pictures as I can, and post more when I get back .

…if you want to check out EARTH University here it is


The New Girl

Hi, I’m Megan, and I’m the new co-op student at SHS. I’m very excited to spend part of my last year here, instead of sitting in class I can start on my mission to make the  earth a better place for us to live, and where better to start than here!

A little bit about me. From the time I was a young’in I always knew that the environment was important to me. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I knew that this is the path life would take me on. You see, high school is where I met my biology teacher, someone so full of  heart that I don’t think she ever stops, Mrs.Newsome. She really opened my eyes as to what was going on around me, and as I looked closer I realised things that I never would have known had I not questioned the world around me. When I decided I wanted to do co-op I wasn’t sure where I was going to go, all I knew was I needed to be somewhere that was making a difference.  As I told this to Mrs.Newsome, before I was even finished she suggested SHS,  when I went home that night and did some reading I too realized SHS would be perfect. Now all I needed was for them to think I was the right person to join their team…I started a week and a half later.

Thanks for reading, Megan

My Internship with the Sierra Youth Coalition

My three month internship at SYC has been an informative first hand look into the non profit industry. I have learned much about the dynamics of a team who is working towards a goal in which they believe in, in this case, sustainability. A big thanks to the SYC staff, Gabriela, Marie-Pierre, Mark and Tracy for being so helpful with this learning experience.

From Parliament Hill to Ottawa University this placement has taken me all over the downtown core. I have learned that this is the ideal place for an organization like SYC to function. A big part of what SYC does is connect with other organizations with similar goals, such as the youth delegation for COP 16 or the climate action network. One of the big things I found with SYC is that they were very realistic with their goals and planned accordingly.

My position was Communications intern, so as well as provide general support for miscellaneous jobs I was responsible for helping out with the social media presence. It showed me how important social media is becoming in this industry. It is rapidly becoming the best way to get out your message, not to say that it is the only way. I learned about workshops, press releases and demonstrations as mediums to promote your goals.

Overall the Sierra youth coalition is an excellent example of a non profit organization and I would recommend a placement here to anyone interested in the industry.

– Alex