The Sault’s Caleb Patterson has a love for working outdoors and protecting the environment.
That passion was formally recognized earlier this month when the 18-year-old Korah Collegiate graduate received the 2019 James S. Miller Memorial Scholarship Award for his dedication to the environment.
The scholarship acknowledges the contributions made by James S. (Jim) Miller, a local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) employee, environmentalist, and well-known local trails advocate, who died in 2007.
“I never met him, but I’ve read a lot about him and he was a really good man, an inspiration. I heard about the scholarship last year and it piqued my interest...I decided I wanted to apply for it so when I heard I had won it, it was pretty exciting,” said Caleb, speaking to SooToday.
The $1,000 award was presented to Caleb by Tom Croswell, Algoma Envirothon co-chair, at the J.S. Miller Trail Head Aug. 17, the scholarship awarded annually to a senior high school student in northern Ontario who intends to pursue a post-secondary education in natural resources or a related field.
Envirothons are annual competitions for high school students, held throughout Canada and the U.S., combining in-class and hands-on environmental education, students given environmental problems to solve.
“I am very passionate about the environment, and my life goal is to make a difference and leave a lasting impression on future generations,” stated Caleb in his application.
“I have planted hundreds of trees, I manage a vegetable garden with rainwater and without fertilizers or pesticides, I do my best to minimize waste and carbon emissions and attempt to influence others to do the same. I believe that my values closely reflect those of James S. Miller and want to do my best to bring his legacy forward,” he wrote.
“I love it all, from planting trees, to identifying and removing invasive species, to the planning of ecologically sound farming and logging practices.”
“When I was younger we used to go camping, hiking and canoeing all the time and really enjoyed it. I always watched the Discovery Channel and learned about global warming and knew that was an issue I wanted to help tackle. I’ve always been outdoorsy. In high school I took environmental science and enjoyed it, took part in Envirothon and that was really fun. Last summer I worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry as a Stewardship Youth Ranger,” Caleb told us.
With that love of nature in his heart and that environmental experience under his belt, Caleb decided to study environmental engineering.
He begins his first year of study in that discipline at Ottawa’s Carleton University next week.
The scholarship money, Caleb said, will go toward his tuition.
“I’ve spoken to Caleb on the phone, and he’s extremely passionate about the environment and climate change...he’s pretty admirable in what he’s been doing and wants to continue doing that,” said Augusta Lipscombe, Forests Ontario/Forest Recovery Canada communications and stakeholder relations officer, speaking to SooToday by phone from Toronto.
Regarding the current Amazon forest fires in Brazil, critics blaming the blazes on deforestation through slash-and-burn to make room for agriculture or other development, Caleb said “that’s a pretty awful thing going on down there. It’s a shame. I don’t think they (the Brazilian government) are looking at the future, all the negative repercussions that are going to come to their country.”
With that, Caleb said “I’m going to do my best” for Canadian forests.