Program aims to attract youth towards conservation careers

By Michael Joel-Hansen
January 9, 2019 - 5:00pm

The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF) wants to get young people to start thinking about a career in conservation.

In this spirit, the organization has started a Youth Conservation Leadership Initiative. According to Chelsea Walters, the communications manager with SWF, a program like this will help to fill a real void.

“I think it’s important for Sask Wildlife, but I also think it’s important for youth in the province, we don’t really have that many work experience opportunities for kids who want to do stuff with conservation,” she said.

The program is open to anyone between the ages of 15 to 18 who are interested in gaining work experience in conservation. The initiative has three separate stages and components. During the first stage participants will be getting hands on experiences.   

“It’s an outdoor education component, so we’re going to take them out … do some outdoor wilderness survival skills and teach them a little about Sask Wildlife and the programs we offer,” said Walters.

During the second part of the program those taking part will have the chance to work alongside somebody in a specific conservation field.

The third phase will see participants do work which involves educating the general public, with some help from their local SWF branch.    

“The participants will go back to their hometowns and have some sort of community engagement assignment,” said Walters.

After finishing up the education program Walters said there will be opportunities for those who wish to continue with the work they have been doing.

“There’s several options for them to come back and do some work for us,” she said.

The wildlife federation’s efforts are being applauded by Scott Lipsit, who serves as program head for Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Resource and Environmental Law program.

“I think it’s incredible, I think it’s fantastic that those initiatives are available to youth,” he said.

Lipsit said he feels it is important that younger people are exposed to conservation as well as sustainable development given the importance of natural resources to Saskatchewan.

“That (youth) is our future of our natural resources as well as our community,” he said.

According to Lipsit, right now, the resource and environmental law programs at Saskatchewan Polytechnic are garnering high interest and enrolment.

“We’re enjoying capacity enrollments, we have about 110 students enrolled in natural resource programming here at the Prince Albert campus,” he said.

Going into the future Lipsit said the workforce in many fields related to natural resource management and conservation are aging, which is driving a demand for people in those fields.  

“We’re finally realizing the succession that we’ve considered would have happened over the last decade,” he said.

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