A potted baby fern plant held over a container of soil while other youth are potting plants in the background.

What motivated you to join the Nature Stewards program?

Vaibhavi: I’m a very outdoorsy person, and I always wanted to do something that helps with nature. I always wanted to learn how to do gardening and how to handle or pot up different plants.

Arianne: Something that motivated me to join was the past programs that I’ve done before and also just the amount of good connections you can make. Another thing that pushed me to do this program was the things that we learned. I find that it’s just very rewarding to learn from EYA and to share this learning experience with other youth.


“I feel that I’ve grown a lot as a person and that I’ve created very strong bonds with many people.”

How has it felt to connect with other youth?

Vaibhavi: I found some really good friends while doing this program. And everyone has been so kind and non-judgemental, so it’s been very comforting.

Arianne: Very rewarding. I feel that I’ve grown a lot as a person and that I’ve created very strong bonds with many people over various programs with EYA.


Two youth participants doing a birding exercise by observing with a pair of binoculars and pointing into the distance.


Can you share a meaningful experience from your time in the program?

Vaibhavi: That’s a hard one because there were a lot of experiences. One meaningful experience was with Sam*, the person who came to do birding with us. I was so fascinated by him because he would just look at or hear a bird and be like “oh, it’s that bird”. I want to learn how to do that, and it would be so awesome to do that in front of my friends.

Arianne: An experience that was meaningful to me was the birding experience. There was a visitor who came and showed us all the bird species. He pointed to each and every bird and shared information about each one on the dot. I found that very impressive and meaningful!



How has the program changed your relationship with nature?

Vaibhavi: Before, I really loved going outside and looking at the trees and birds, but I didn’t really find any meaning in them. But after doing this stewardship program, I found a connection with the trees.

Arianne: I think that my relationship with nature before the program was very strong. I really enjoy going outside and being with my friends in nature. But after doing multiple programs, my relationship with nature has strengthened over time, and I feel more educated about what I’m going into.

“I really see myself inspiring other youth around me to also take action towards nature.”

What did you learn during the program that you think will be useful in an environmental career?

Vaibhavi: One of the skills I learned was how to identify plants and their uses, especially the Indigenous ways of using plants in different ways. They never take too much, always just the right amount, and always give back to nature. That was really fascinating to me because it’s not just taking; it’s also giving back. That really resonated with me a lot, and I think it could help me in future careers.

Arianne: Some of the skills I learned were plant identification and communication. It’s important to know how to identify plants when you’re working with the environment. I think that skill really helped me and opened up more opportunities for me in the environmental sector. And communication too because it’s important to forge bonds with everyone in your work environment.


Three youth participants working together to put together a bumblebee habitat box.


How do you see yourself continuing to take care of the environment and contribute to environmental causes in the future?

Vaibhavi: I see myself volunteering more and inspiring other youth to volunteer.

Arianne: I see myself being more mindful of what I do in the environment. I see myself giving back more to nature. I see myself signing up for more programs related to nature. And I really see myself inspiring other youth around me to also take action towards nature.




What would you say to other youth who may be interested in joining the program?

Vaibhavi: I would definitely tell other youths that it’s a very fun program where you can learn a lot of things not just in a standard way but in a very fun way.

Arianne: What I would say to youth that want to join this program is to be open to new opportunities and new experiences and be open to socializing with other youth. And make sure to arrive on time!

Youth participants Vaibhavi and Arianne in the greenhouse at Strathcona Community Gardens, holding up a potted plant and smiling.

We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Vaibhavi and Arianne for their dedication to the Nature Stewards program and for their time sharing their reflections on the experience.

Explore our website to learn more about our programs and how you can provide ongoing support for our work empowering youth from equity-denied communities to become environmental stewards by becoming a sustaining monthly donor.


* Sam Mactavish works with Wild Bird Trust at the Coast Salish Native Plant Nursery and as part of their habitat restoration team. Sam has loved nature from a young age. In 2011, Sam’s grandparents took him birding, and from that day, he was hooked on birds. Through his time as a Peer Mentor and Youth Habitat Crew Leader with EYA, Sam developed a strong interest in plants. This passion led him to pursue his education in horticulture. Sam loves to share his knowledge of nature with others.