Exploring Future Career Opportunities

This past spring break the West Coast N.E.S.T. hosted a two-day Youth Exploration Camp. Led by local experts, the workshop included an introduction to interpretation guiding, marine biology, youth environmental stewardship as well as the behind-the-scenes of being a sea kayak guide. The goal of the event was to offer the opportunity for youth to acquire knowledge as well as be inspired by some of the different organizations and individuals that do incredible work in the natural sciences and ecotourism field in the region.

We had a great mix of local and visiting participants, some youth had traveled a long way with their families to take part in this event, from the Comox Valley to Alberta! Each of them met us at Long Beach Lodge Resort in the Rainforest Room and from there we made sure to shift to our outdoor classroom as much as possible to explore Cox Bay Beach as well as the stunning Pettinger Point trail. What better way to learn about coastal ecosystems than by being able to smell the ocean, feel the sun on our cheeks, and hear the bald eagles singing above our heads? After all, this is what the West Coast N.E.S.T. is all about, promoting and creating opportunities for transformative place-based learning here on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Video credits: On the Beach Motion Pictures

Inspiring Career Paths

At the start of the event, to introduce youth to a broader range of careers in environmental sciences, participants watched the West Coast N.E.S.T.'s Science and Conservation Researcher Interview Series, in which local youth interview local scientists about their work. Ranging from kelp monitoring to salmon research, these videos allowed youth to see science careers in action. In the second part of the event, youth were given the opportunity to broaden their vision about what career paths could be available to them through hands-on activities and by listening to experts who demonstrated that a love for nature and the outdoors can bloom into a rewarding profession. Each of our guest speakers offered a different perspective to the youth to help them expand the way they think about the many avenues they could take to reach their dream careers. The West Coast N.E.S.T. was pleased to welcome incredible speakers to this event. They all had unique stories to share and inspiring career topics to discuss with the youth.

Photo credits: Sam Rose Phillips - Sophie Vanderbanck sharing her knowledge with participants during the Build-a-Whale activity.

The first guest speaker was Sophie Vanderbanck from Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society (SIMRS). She shared with us some of the important work SIMRS does on the coast as well as many aspects of her professional background. The second part of her presentation was the famous Build-a-Whale activity, which was a hit. We could see that each participant was fascinated by all the different whale bones they were able to manipulate as well as by all the incredible facts Sophie shared about whale biology. The energy was high, we could feel the radiating enthusiasm in the room, and in the end, each youth was happy with what they had accomplished, building a whale, vertebrae by vertebrae.

"She was super amazing and answered all our questions! :)"

– Youth Career Exploration participant

Photo credits: Sam Rose Phillips - Carl Sieber and Silva Johansson engaging participants with facts about the local area during the interpretive walk activity.

Our next guest speakers were Silva Johansson and Carl Sieber, local expert Interpreters. They took the group outside on an entertaining and inspiring guided walk as well as uncovered the many behind-the-scenes aspects of being an Interpreter. Youth were shown different facets of this career and how they can inspire people to take care of the natural world through this type of work. During the walk, each youth observed Carl’s and Silva’s different and thoroughly engaging styles of interpretation. Both instructors also generously shared interpretative tricks with the group and taught them about ecological, historical, and cultural aspects specific to the area while being immersed in a beautiful outdoor classroom.

"I love how they were so connected to the land and engaging."

– Youth Career Exploration participant

Photo credits: Sam Rose Phillips - Kevin Bradshaw sharing his experience with participants during his presentation about sea kayaking.

Our third session was a presentation from Kevin Bradshaw and Sam Brunt from Hello Nature Adventure Tours. As Kevin and Sam started talking about being sea kayak guides and working in the industry, we could hear the passion being communicated through their voices and through the stories they shared with the group. It was a great opportunity for the youth to fully understand what it takes to be a sea kayak guide and why it can be such a rewarding career. It not only offers the opportunity for connection with the ecosystems that they paddle in, with guests from around the world but also with a wonderfully passionate outdoor guiding community.  

"Super informative and interesting!"

– Youth Career Exploration participant

Photo credits: Sam Rose Phillips - Ben Reckner presenting to the group the work accomplished by the Surfrider Pacific Rim chapter.

The last presentation was from Ben Reckner and Rheanna Garcia from the Surfrider Youth Club. Not only did they share the amazing work Surfrider Pacific Rim and the Youth Club have done over the past several years on the west coast, but they also showed opportunities for youth that might want to get involved. For local youth, the Youth Club meets at the High School on a regular basis and is open to new members. However, for other participants visiting from different areas, they were able to see that there are opportunities for them to start a new club in their school to create actionable and lasting changes to help protect the ocean.

"Very engaging, convinced me to go to their next meeting."

– Youth Career Exploration participant

Photo credits: Sam Rose Phillips: Participants (second group - ages 10-12) during the activity “Introduction to scientific drawing with a find and draw scavenger hunt”.

Bright futures ahead

Over this two-day workshop, participants not only learned about occupations that are in line with their passions, but they got to meet like-minded youth from different regions and formed friendships that, we hope, might lead to lasting connections. It has been a pleasure to meet such interesting and motivated participants and it is thrilling to think about all the wonderful opportunities they have at their fingertips. We can’t help but feel excited about what they will decide to use their unique skills for in the future.

Thanks to the Pacific Economic Development Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund, the event tickets were offered to participants at a subsidized cost. This funding also provided the opportunity to host a greater number of speakers for the event. A huge thank you to Long Beach Lodge Resort for providing the space and to all the instructors for inspiring the youth (Sophie Vanderbanck, Silva Johansson, Carl Sieber, Kevin Bradshaw, Sam Brunt, Ben Reckner, and Rheanna Garcia)!

Interested in other great learning opportunities? Make sure to take a look at our courses and events calendar and follow us on FacebookInstagramTik TokYoutube & Twitter for regular updates on upcoming opportunities in the region. We hope you can join us!