Celeste Shoahs has an encouraging message for young environmentalists.
"Don't be afraid," she told SooToday. "Get involved in school and outside of school."
We caught up with her after work at her summer job in Lake Superior Provincial Park recently. She is one of four winners of scholarships from Clean North and Shaw aimed at promoting environmental awareness, education, and stewardship among Algoma District youth and encouraging a new generation of environmental stewards for the region.
Her passion for the environment and fighting climate change grew from deep roots in the area but she wants to see it branch out much further.
The Superior Heights graduate grew up in Batchawana Bay and says she was blessed to have been raised in a family of outdoor recreation enthusiasts. This gave her a deep appreciation for the value of fresh water.
"This place is so unique," she said. "So many species of plants and animals are found here and so much fresh water."
Shoahs plans to attend the University of Guelph in the fall, majoring in Environmental Science and taking a minor in International Development and she has some lofty plans for that combination of concentrations.
"I hope to someday go to Thailand," she said. "I want to see how they are doing things and if there is a way to do them better without harming the environment as much."
She says we can all learn something from other people and communities about better ways to do things and about developing a passion for the earth.
"It's never too late (or early) to develop a passion for the environment," she said.
Her 'gateway' event that galvanized her interest in environmental science was the Ontario Envirothon. This led to her volunteering with both Clean North and landing a coop placement with the Canadian Water Agency.
"Introduce yourself, ask questions, find people who are interested in the same thing as you," she offered as advice to other young people looking to follow a path similar to hers.
"Join clubs in school and look for places to volunteer outside of class," Shoahs said.
Most importantly, make your life what you want it to be, she advised. Follow your passions and find your own way to make a difference, she said.