A New Generation of Educators

Spring 2015

Sherry Wong

Schulich Leader at York University

Rummaging through your closet for what seems like 15 years, but still unable to find anything to wear. This usually calls for an utterly unnecessary, yet oddly satisfying, shopping spree that will result in your wallet looking a lot emptier. Truth be told, this was a situation I found myself in almost every day, and it was also what ignited my unyielding passion to engage in environmental work. 
 
Let’s fast forward a few years to present day where I was recently honoured with the title of being one of Canada’s Top 25 Environmentalists under 25 by the Starfish Canada. The Starfish Canada is a youth oriented organization that celebrates the achievements of young environmentalists across the nation. I am grateful, not only because I was recognized for my environmental endeavors, but also for the networking opportunity that has presented itself to me.  Through the Starfish Canada, I was exposed to the incredible accomplishments of the Canadian youth. An educator does not necessarily have to be someone with decades of life experiences or someone with an accredited title. These environmentalists act as mentors by educating our community about modern day issues, and providing concrete solutions. Furthermore, many of these environmentalists are STEM leaders. By applying their knowledge in chemistry, one of the Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 is currently constructing a new prototype device in hopes of developing a more efficient way of harvesting energy out of water and sunlight, as opposed to traditional solar panels. From organizing one of the largest waste audits in Canadian history, to riding a bike from Vancouver to Inuvik to host climate change workshops, these young leaders prove themselves to be the new generation of educators.
 
As for me? I actively raise eco-awareness through one of my initiatives, the Upcycling Competition. Upcycling is the creative process of transforming old items into something new. This annual competition challenges kindergarten to grade 12 students to come up with their most creative pieces using only recycled materials. Not only does this competition help students develop the sense of treasuring our Earth’s resources, it can also educate and inspire others to believe that an eco-friendly life style is the best way to preserve our earth. The students' upcycled pieces are showcased in an exhibition open to the public in celebration of Earth Week. 
 
As an upcycling enthusiast, what I find most exciting about upcycling is that you can easily do it yourself at home. Millions of tax dollars are spent towards blue bin collection. Rather than tossing that pop can into a recycling bin, why not turn it into a chic couture dress that is perfect for a semi-formal school dance? Now you will never have an excuse to break the bank just because you have nothing to wear!