Below are accounts of Waterlution’s youth advisory board members experiences’ forging careers in environmentalism and education this past summer.
Enhancing my creative skills goes beyond workshop development and facilitation. Through collaboration with the Young Water Speaks Travelling Exhibition team, I was able to help with a number of tasks to get the exhibition underway including planning what the exhibition would look like, creating activities that could be set up and accompanying the exhibition for visitors to be inspired to tell their own water story.
Helping to coordinate the booking of the host venues was an area of networking and outreach that I was unfamiliar with when I started. I have made some great connections to the water and the arts communities through correspondence about these events.
Since the environment is relatively unpredictable, developing skills such as organization alongside adaptability is important to do in the environmental education sector. Organization and planning help to prepare for scenarios through having appropriate resources on hand, and adaptability can help you use those resources to provide a great experience regardless of factors outside of your control.
As with pretty much everybody on the planet, my skills in being adaptable were put to the test when the pandemic came around. Despite having been working in youth programming for a number of years at that point, I had never facilitated online learning and workshops (and honestly, I had rarely taken part in virtual learning as a student). Joining the YAB meant that I could learn how to engage youth on the subject of the environment even in front of a screen. Using the skills I had from my experiences in youth programming already, understanding what things I personally struggle with when participating in online learning and through collaboration and learning with others, I was able to help develop and run workshops. Between Waterlution and my other job, I have now facilitated online lessons and activities for approximately 4700 students across Canada since November 2020 and while I continue to thrive during in-person programming, I feel so much more comfortable being on the other side of a screen and feel confident that I can be engaging at the same time!
Athena Choo-Ket Loung
Waterlution has empowered me with the skills necessary to pursue a career within the environmental sector, as I have been able to improve and practice skills I already had while learning new skills from my colleagues.
As a Youth Programs Assistant, I had the opportunity to learn more about how to network and to implement these skills through outreach efforts for the Young Water Speaks program. Along with networking skills, I have been able to hone my facilitation, communication and problem solving skills – all of which are valuable skills within the environmental sector for both entry level and leadership roles.
Being given the opportunity to facilitate workshops, team meetings and YAB training sessions I have been able to put these skills into practice, as I worked with youths, leaders within other organizations and new YAB members. By interacting with a variety of individuals over the course of my contract, my communication skills have been tested and improved as a result; I now feel confident enough to lead large groups in workshop and training activities. Before working with Waterlution, I was very timid and never felt comfortable delivering presentations; now as I work towards the completion of my Bachelor’s Degree in Science I feel more assured in my presentation and communication abilities.
In preparation for my entrance into my desired field of work, I have done what many young people do, googled what skills are needed to become a Marine Biologist. My research has led me to find several young professionals who have been able to provide me with a better understanding of what is required of a Marine Biologist. The skills necessary to attain this role include the ability to work in a team, research skills, strong communication skills and project management. Although my position with Waterlution does not share the same title as my dream job, the skills I have been able to learn and work on are very similar. In addition to the skills I mentioned before (i.e. networking, facilitation, and problem solving skills), as a Youth Programs Assistant I was able to work on my research skills through outreach efforts, while also being given the opportunity to work with a team of colleagues (within the Youth Programs department) to facilitate workshops and build summer programming.
These experiences and opportunities have provided me with the skills necessary to work towards achieving my dream job as a Marine Biologist – as I have gained hands-on experience and the transferable skills necessary to apply for this position once I have completed my undergraduate education. Overall, my experience with Waterlution was not only fun, but very rewarding!
My experience at Waterlution as a Youth Development Assistant has been nothing short of fantastic! Through a variety of different tasks, I have further developed skills of collaboration, effective teamwork, planning & organization and creative thinking that were acquired through past work and volunteer experiences.
However, I have also been able to develop new skills that will be essential for the type of work I wish to pursue. In the realm of marine biology, it is very important to be eager & curious about all things marine. Throughout my placement at Waterlution, I was able to put my creative thinking skills to the test which allowed me to incorporate my passion for marine conservation into the workshops and camps I was planning and/or facilitating. With such planning and facilitation, I was able to expand my own knowledge on subjects related to marine biology as my research allowed me to discover new, creative and innovative research projects underway! Furthermore, those who wish to pursue a career in marine biology must have a certain willingness to learn new programs and equipment. Although my placement at Waterlution did not require the use of unfamiliar equipment or programs, some of the tasks I completed were somewhat outside my usual comfort zone (i.e those that required much public speaking). I enjoyed the unease that came with these tasks however, as I believe they challenged me in the best way possible.
Finally, as those found within the marine community are generally quite connected, developing my networking and outreach skills was a huge advantage. The autonomous outreach work I conducted over my 9 week contract allowed me to interact and connect with a variety of individuals from all different backgrounds and fields. Since this personal skill required much development in my opinion, I am quite thankful for the opportunity to work on it further as it taught me who to connect with, what questions to ask and what to do afterwards. This work opportunity has allowed me to grow both as an individual and a marine biologist and I am very excited to see what opportunities lie ahead with the experiences and skills I learned at Waterlution.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time working for Waterlution this summer— I got to experience firsthand how an organization works together to advance its projects and reach from all parts of the world. I had the opportunity to forge professional connections and explore my interests through a variety of different projects in a supportive environment, which enabled me to cultivate both my personal and professional skills.
Through one of my projects, I was fortunate to interview Jesse Montgomery and Luke Gjerdalen who work in Watershed & Environmental Management for the city of Metro Vancouver back in April. I reconnected with them for this blog to inquire about career skills they considered important to possess for their line of work. Jesse and Luke both agree that “a true connection and passion for the natural world is critical to foster the necessary learning and understanding” required for work in the environment sector. Luke adds that his interest in the field and a willingness to learn from others have led him to work in forests and habitats around our local watersheds. During this placement, I’ve developed many of the soft skills that Jesse and Luke both identify as necessary for their occupations, such as flexibility and adaptability, communication, and care for the work you’re doing.
One of my biggest projects this summer was creating a materials package for the pilot Waterlution Club at our school. I had no prior experience with club formation and was planning it without referencing published materials from established clubs. After recognizing my mistake and assessing multiple online club guides, I made many revisions to the document to account for situations I hadn’t taken into consideration. Adapting my initial mindset returned a much more comprehensive and complete document that I was excited to share with the team for their input. A lot of the document was tentative and subject to change before the final edit, so I had to be very flexible with the structure and ideas I was suggesting.
My communication skills were put into practice much more frequently also. Participating in two check-ins every week with different groups of people, one on one’s to develop ideas, and meetings with experienced professionals have given my shy personality many opportunities to enhance and practice how I deliver concise information and communicate verbally. Through the research I was doing for our monthly newsletter and compiling water professionals’ response data for multiple webinars, I was able to immerse myself in both scientific and anecdotal information about our water and natural environment. Learning about new innovation initiatives and how water contributes so much to multiple facets of our lives gave me a greater awareness of the importance of natural resource conservation and compelled me to make further changes to my own behaviours to reduce my negative environmental impact.
I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to work alongside Waterlution’s encouraging and passionate team members this summer. I’ve experienced so much of what I once considered elusive, and I’m excited to continue using the transferable skills I’ve polished here later in my education!