Who We Are The Starfish is a Hamilton-based group Originated in November 2010, the Starfish dedicated to making a difference in local staff is completely comprised of volunteers communities and abroad. within the community that are passionate about environmentalism and focus on We engage the online community in engaging their community. conversations about environmental concerns by providing content for everyone to enjoy. We provide online content to over 1,100 From sustainability, to biodiversity, to viewers a week, while running other agriculture and health - thereâ€™s bound to be programs and services to the Hamilton a topic for everyone to enjoy. community. Pictured above from left to right: Kyle Empringham (Co-Founder and Editor), Sujane Kandasamy (Co-Founder and Editor), Alex Pogacean (Promotions Coordinator) and Lauren Murphy (Editor, Food and Health Writer)
Emilie Novaczek to promote coverage. She has also traveled to Cancun, Mexico to participate in the UN negotiation process.
Emilie will be a student in the first class of graduates from
the King’s College Sustainability program. This academic experience has helped her apply environmental sciences and tie
the issues into social and political realms. She says that “it’s been an exercise in expanding how I look at a situation and how
I think I can apply myself to make the most productive change”. Emilie Novaczek’s passion and dedication to environmental
In addition, she has also been involved with Action!King’s,
passion in an academic setting, she also participates with
can take to live free of environmental impact-free for one week.
change is what sets her apart. Not only does she apply this organizations to bring about changes toward a worthy cause.
Novaczek is actively involved with the Canadian Youth Climate
Coalition (CYCC), traveling to UN negotiations to represent Canadian youth. While facilitating workshops for young
where she organized “No Impact Week”, a pledge that students Raising awareness and organizing student action plans is very critical in the process of making a difference in the way that
we approach sustainability! The success of the campaign has allowed the team to run it again this year.
children as a gesture of community outreach and education, she
Spending a semester studying climatology and marine
have helped raise awareness amongst younger generations.
desire to work on an honours thesis in the San Andres
has immersed herself in important environmental issues which
Being part of the Media Relations team, Novaczek is very familiar with putting out daily newsletters and podcasts in order
biology at the University of West Indies has inspired her
Archipelago studying sustainable resource management. We wish you the best of luck!
Caitlin Hill Caitlin Hill has been passionately involved with environmental initiatives since she fought back against a plan for a housing development project on a former marshland.
She has continued to immerse herself in various assignments, including conducting information sessions with Pinetree
Secondary School’s environmentalist club, helping to raise
$1,500 toward land conservation issues, writing articles and
guest blog posts for The Nature Trust of British Columbia, and
The Starfish | Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
working with a landscape architect to help restore the pond in the Boundary Bay Area.
She has a very strong enthusiasm for working with youth to
fight for a good cause because she sees how vital it is for future generations to recognize the importance of the environment.
This Simon Fraser University student is considered a solid
part of leadership and her courage and boldness is much
The Summit, which was completely for students and by students, attracted 350 young people from 30 different countries. “We
were reaching out to students all over the world with different perspectives and that come from different backgrounds,” said Taylor. “Bringing them all together into one spot and having them interact has, from what we’ve seen so far, been an amazing catalyst in actually invoking change.”
admired. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge by
The event had something for everyone, be it a technical, political
breadth as opposed to depth. We wanted to reach as many
connecting and networking to make a difference in the realm
Hill hopes her Communications and Publishing degree will help her work as a director of an environmental not-for-
or financial look at energy. “We intended to do it through people as possible and make it as approachable as possible,” explained Tran.
profit group or guide her through environmental journalism.
Experts in various relevant fields came to speak. At the
Environmental Planning at Royal Roads University, paving her
(Chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change),
Within the near future, she plans to complete a Masters of path to environmental advocacy and conservation.
Kali Taylor and Janice Tran
second Summit, which took place in 2011, Rajendra Pachauri Jeremy Rifkin (economist and political advisor), Andrew
Nikiforuk (noted Canadian journalist) and Mark Jaccard
(environmental economist at Simon Fraser University) were among the many experts who gave presentations. Taylor and Tran raised roughly $750,000 for the two conferences and had more than 50 students working on logistics.
The goal of the conferences was to bring together people from
various backgrounds and interest groups. Differences in opinion on energy solutions have emerged as a result of the diversity in home country, occupation and fields of expertise. According
the Taylor and Tran, the conferences encourage leadership and cooperation rather than advocate for particular solutions. While students at the University of Calgary, Kali Taylor and Janice Tran acted on idea to bring fellow students from across the
globe together for a conference on sustainable energy solutions. They led a group of peers in hosting the first International Student Energy Summit (ISES) in 2009.
Student Energy, the organization responsible for planning the
summits and ensuring that the ongoing dialogue around energy
reaches more and more students, is led by Taylor and Tran. Outside of Student Energy, Tran is pursuing her chartered
accountant designation. She’s working with Ernst & Young
Her passion for the environment extends beyond academia
responsibility reporting for big companies. She’s also researching
for her friends, leading them on a path toward environmental
on energy audits, sustainability consulting and corporate social corporate greenhouse gas audits and reporting at the University of Saskatchewan, and is hoping to eventually get a PhD.
and into her personal life, where she has been the compass consciousness. She is an avid hiker, and camper, and often spends weekends on the nature trails.
Taylor is a carbon capture and storage (CCS) analyst with
Furthermore, McDougall participates actively in biodiversity
companies to help them reduce their GHG footprint. In the
favourite blog,The Starfish. Through these postings, we’re happy
Integrated CO2 Network in Calgary. She’s working with next year, she’s hoping to start on a master’s degree in climate change management.
and conservation dialogue by contributing articles for our to say she is able to stimulate thought-provoking conversations in order to promote environmental awareness.
As a member of MACgreen, she attends weekly meetings to
plan events relevant to environmental sustainability. In addition, as the President of the McMaster Science Society, McDougall
has been avidly working toward contributing a recycling and compost system into welcome week plans. These experiences have really helped to guide her passion for environmentalism and translate it into meaningful contributions.
McDougall hopes to make a difference within the realm of
conservationism by studying to become an environmental lawyer. She hopes to combine her unique appreciation for our Mandy McDougall’s environmental contributions to her
surroundings have stemmed from her long-time interest and
earth with her drive and determination in order to help protect the environment for future generations.
dedication to science.
With her education in biology and environmental sciences, McDougall has gained much knowledge within the field of
watershed ecodydrology, geochemistry, soil science, and climate change impacts. In combination with her studies at McMaster
University, she has experience as a research assistant at the
Center for Spatial Analysis where she has gained knowledge about GIS systems, spatial statistics, and spatial analysis.
The Starfish | Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
Photo source: Bay Area Restoration Council
Kale Black Black has also worked with the city to create the Burlington Transit Youth Ambassador program, which has successfully
created a network for students to get out of cars and into public transit.
He has also led a team of volunteers at Burlington’s Sound of Music festival, sorting waste into recycling and green compost
bins. With this, his group was able to divert about 80% of In order to achieve ambitious goals, I believe passion and
dedication are two of the necessary tools. I also believe Kale Black has a bounty of both these qualities.
This 22-year old shows this off as the Youth Program Coordinator
for Burlington Green, a non-profit group dedicated to making Burlington, Ontario a greener place to live.
With this role, Black has the ability to work with elementary
and high school students to create programs that will engage them with their eco-community. With this, he has created
many impactful programs, including an anti-idling campaign, climate change rallies, and youth environmental conferences (which have had over 700 attendees!).
recyclable products from the waste bin. That’s impressive.
And instead of traditional birthday parties, Black makes his
friends and family volunteer for a environmentally friendly initiative. Planting willows and cattails are amongst his favourites.
I think Amy Schnurr, Burlington Green’s Program Director, best explains Kale’s impact on the community. “Our Earth needs
more Youth like Kale Black who continually and passionately
demonstrate a dedicated commitment to help the planet locally, both in how he lives and makes choices and how he inspires other Youth as a local eco-leader.”
For more information about Burlington Green, please see their website at www.burlingtongreen.org.
Suzanne Perdeaux which was a volunteer group that designed campaign posters and
events to encourage co-workers to reduce their environmental impact while in the workplace.
Although the globe has a left her with a permanent imprint
of inspiration, Perdeaux is always looking to get more involved with her local community. Participating with the Region of
York, she has planted 30-40 trees in East Gwilliambury. She says that “it feels really good to give back!” With her impressive background on ecological concepts and
In addition, Perdeaux is also a researcher and event volunteer
Suzanne Perdeaux has an outstanding potential to excel within
where she has gained experience conducting online research on
strong ability to think outside the box on conservation issues, the field of wildlife ecology.
Within her eclectic composite of global research, she has
researched plant diversity in Hawaii, glacial boundary changes in Alaska, and captive breeding of Panda Bears in China.
While working for Natural Resources Canada, she engaged in
the ‘Communities’ group of the Office of Energy Efficiency where she was able to learn more about new technologies in
for the York Region Environmental Alliance Organization, sustainable living and helping to plan community events such as the Windfall Ecology Festival.
In the near future, Suzanne hopes to complete her Masters degree and teach for “Wildlands Studies”, a program run by
California State University. With her upbeat personality, and
dedication to ecological sciences, we have no doubt that her ‘wildest’ dreams will come true!
alternative energies. She was also a part of their “Green Team”,
Holly Stover Holly Stover’s undergraduate science degree at the University of
Western Ontario revolved around the environment. In working toward a specialization in environmental science, Stover
took courses in resource management, ecosystem ecology interpretation of biological data, among others.
In 2008, she developed a rehabilitation plan for the mudpuppy
mussel in the Upper Thames River watershed, for which she
received high praise from her supervisors. For her fourth-year
The Starfish | Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
Preeya Raja thesis project in 2009-2010, Stover studied fungal communities in tall grass prairies at Walpole Island First Nation. During the summer prior, she had worked on the project through an NSERC grant. Following completion of her thesis, she was
hired as a student researcher to complete the work. She is working toward getting her findings published.
While completing her undergrad, Stover served as coordinator of EnviroWestern, of which she was a part from her second
to final years at Western. With the group, she worked on local
reforestation, an anti-plastic water bottle campaign, an on-
“Preeya Raja manages to balance a very busy life with finding
campus community garden, an Earth Day celebration and
time to make her community a better place to live through her
Her resume also features work or involvement with groups that
manner that is infectious.”
many other projects designed to raise environmental awareness. include Field Botanists of Ontario, Imperial Oil Limited, the Sierra Youth Coalition, Rainforest London, Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park and Thames Talbot Land Trust.
A dedicated vegetarian, Stover now lives in the EcoHouse at
the University of Alberta. The three-person residence is made
of recycled materials and has an earth-tube heating system,
environmental initiatives. She does so in a proactive and upbeat
That’s what Jim Hudson, Executive Director of the Bay Area
Restoration Council (BARC), had to say about Raja’s dedication
to the environment. She’s also very unique as the only Top 25 Finalist that is currently serving on a Board of Directors for an environmental non-profit organization.
solar water heating, solar panels, low-flow water features and
She first heard about BARC through a first-year ecology
become part of her “personal sustainability journey.”
restore and clean-up Hamilton Harbour (Hamilton, ON) to its
an organic vegetable garden. The sustainable home, she says, has
Stover is currently conducting research on national parks. In the
class, and ever since, she’s been hooked on their mandate: to original state.
future, she hopes to be active in ecological restoration and the
After years of environmental pollution from steel factories
related field, and eventually moving into a career of teaching
working on for 20 years.
protection of natural habitats. She is considering a PhD in a and research.
and other influences, it’s a daunting job that BARC has been
With this in hand, Raja set to work. She joined BARC as their Volunteer Coordinator in 2009, working with the public and getting them involved with BARC’s various eco-initiatives.
Photo source: Roger Gordon, flickr.com
After the Board of Directors was so impressed with her work,
she was elected onto their committee one year later, where she
serves as a youth representative and provides insight on how to interact with school-aged demographics.
She isn’t stopping there, either. Raja aims to take a strong hold onto the BARC education committee, where she wants
to investigate and make recommendations on targeting high school and university-aged students on BARC’s philosophy.
In the future, Raja aims to gets into health advocacy and make sure that others understand how the environment is an important factor. “The environment has a huge impact on health,” Raja said. “I think that it’s important to draw out that relation for the public because it’s not really seen as going hand-in-hand.”
Ever since Carter started his undergraduate degree at McMaster University, he’s shown that passion all over campus.
Not only is his degree in geography and environmental studies, his thesis/project discussed the utilization of green spaces across
socio-economic levels. After understanding how green spaces
can aid in lower temperature areas and aid in mental restoration, he conducted first-hand research to find interesting conclusions. Carter’s time at the Union Market, McMaster’s student-run convenience store, was largely influential. He pushed for selling local foods, “used but not bruised” notebooks, and he even assisted in getting composting systems in place.
In May 2010, Carter became the Sustainability Coordinator
for McMaster’s Office of Sustainability, where he assisted in
For more information about the Bay Area Restoration Council, producing waste audits and greenhouse gas inventories. With please see their website at www.hamiltonharbour.ca.
his help, the office was able to see as 45% waste reduction across campus, and their carbon reduction targets were met.
“[Carter’s] passion, organized approach and willingness to go
beyond expectations have made him an integral part of office activities,” said Kate Whalen, Manager of Sustainability.
His positive eco-influence doesn’t stop there. He has also worked with a variety of local environmental groups, including Open Streets Hamilton, Environment Hamilton, and
SmartCommute Hamilton, having a positive and long-lasting impression on all groups he’s worked with.
Jay Carter’s environmental influences started at a very young
age. “My playground was the forest,” Carter told us. “Growing
up surrounded by a natural environment and with different animals to take care of really helped build my passion for anything environmental.”
The Starfish | Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
With the aforementioned in mind, I couldn’t agree more with
Whalen’s words: “Carter’s efforts have directly contributed to making McMaster a more sustainable and engaging place to learn, work, and play.”
Kirsten Silvera lawyer, I would like to do pro bono work for non-profits against corporations,” she said.
Silvera’s undergraduate degree included research on an at-risk
species of turtles at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Through use
of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, she was able to monitor the turtles. In the summer following the year of
research and monitoring, she worked with RBG, and she was able to follow through on many of the recommendations she Having completed an undergraduate degree in biodiversity
at McMaster University, Kirstin Silvera is in her first year of
Her experience also includes work with the Bay Area Restoration
program offers a link to Osgood Hall Law School, through
Guild and volunteer work as Alternative Transportation
a Masters in Environmental Studies at York University. The which she hopes to become an environmental lawyer.
Prior to starting her current degree, she was working for Green Venture, a not-for-profit group in Hamilton dedicated to
Council in Hamilton, membership on McMaster’s Biodiversity
Coordinator for MacGreen, a student organization. With the
last of these, she planned campus events, worked on outreach and piloted an on-campus “rent-a-bike” program.
raising environmental awareness. She developed and managed
Through working with various groups, Silvera has seen the
retrofit program and researched local at-risk species.
projects to concentrate environmental efforts.
educational programming, worked on a home weatherization
importance of connecting organizations working on similar
Her experience with groups like Green Venture has inspired
Be it for not-for-profit groups or at-risk species, she hopes that
is to get into policy ... in order to try to make changes so that it’s
be a voice for things that can’t necessarily speak for themselves,”
her to want to empower similar groups in the future. “My goal easier for smaller groups to do more. If I was an environmental
her future work in law and policy will provide help. “I want to she said.
SarinÉ Willis-O’Connor What sets Willis-O’Connor apart from the rest of the nominations is the vast amount of leadership conferences she
attended, striving to make a difference for the environment
on a provincial, national, and international level. In 2008, she attended the Quebec Student Sustainability Conference
and presented on environmental issues in McGill residences and provided strategies to improve these circumstances. Also
during this year, she was selected as one of three Canadian students to engage in an all-inclusive, 10 days intensive As a lifelong eco-enthusiast, Sariné Willis-O’Connor
exemplifies the attributes of a dedicated environmentalist through her volunteer experiences and leadership qualities.
Since 2008, this McGill University student has acted as the
Founder and Organization Coordinator of Greenpeace McGill, founding the first ever Greenpeace University division in
training program, Change it ’08, at Harvard University. In 2009, she was recognized as a global leader at the Leadership
for Life! conference at McGill University, educating them on
ways to become a global leader for the environment. Following this, she presented (in French) at the Colloques campus durables conference, informing them on ways to conserve energy every day.
Canada. While on board of this committee, Willis-O’Connor
Finally, in 2009 she participated at Powershift in Ottawa,
different avenues. She successfully passed a motion to sell only
government to place more emphasis on climate policy.
contributed her passion for the environment through many
sustainable caught fish in the student cafeterias. She over saw
Ontario, learning about climate issues and lobbied against the
all meeting with McGill students, McGill administration and
Through these educational experiences, Willis-O’Connor takes
constitution, motion regarding seafood on campus, and many
her Bachelor of Arts, majoring in psychology with a minor
Greenpeace Canada. She wrote policies for the club such as the more. On top of all of this, Willis-O’Connor has also initiated campaigns and panel discussions regarding issues such as Tar Sands and shale gas extraction.
The Starfish | Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
with her this environmental background as she completes in behavioral science and field studies. Because of her strong
dedication and passion for the environment, we’re delighted to announce her as number sixteen on our list!
Tsering Dolma campaign, championed climate change activism through the
Power Vote campaign leading up to the 2008 Presidential Election and participated in other environmental endeavours.
Dolma’s environmental passion is coupled with her interest in social justice. She acted as President of the Berea, Kentucky
chapter of Students for a Free Tibet during 2008-2009, and has since continued her involvement as an active member. With the N Street Village in Washington, DC, she was a program After completing a biology undergraduate degree in Kentucky and moving to Canada, it didn’t take long for Tsering Dolma to embed herself in Toronto’s environmental movement.
assistant with the Bethany Women’s Centre. Through research and her own experiences in working with the Village, she
was able to report and give presentations on poverty, chronic mental illness and substance abuse in the area.
She first served as a Live Green Toronto volunteer during
2009-2010 with the Toronto Environmental Office. In
addition to helping with events, she attended weekly two-hour seminars on Toronto’s environmental issues, which prepared her for work later on.
She took a job in 2010 with the Toronto Environmental
Alliance (TEA), for which she became volunteer coordinator. She trained and engaged hundreds of new volunteers. Laura
Buccioni, TEA office manager and Dolma’s nominator,
Photo source: Toronto Environmental Alliance
explained that the influx of volunteer support that allowed
Dolma’s knowledge of the environment has been duly
possible without Dolma’s tireless work.” The next year, Dolma
Academy of Science, she was given a first place award in the
the organization to weather budget cuts “would not have been became Community Outreach Coordinator for the Alliance.
Prior to moving out of Kentucky, Dolma worked at the Centre for
recognized. At the 93rd annual meeting of the Kentucky Ecology and Environmental Science section. Her activism has earned her a number of other awards over the years.
Excellence in Learning Through Service at Berea College. She led
water conservation efforts, organized an Appalachian restoration
Andrew Chong Furthermore, Chong has co-founded OPIRG’s “Food for Life” where he has launched organic cooking events at St. Paul’s
Church. He is also a member of “MacEarth”, a committee
aimed at making McMaster University residences more environmentally friendly.
Chong’s passion for the environment even extends into academia, as he is a volunteer in a toxicology lab where he learns
about waste water chemicals and how they affect aquatic life It all began for Andrew Chong while being engaged as a member of “St. Andrew’s College Environmentalists” in high school.
This is when he began to seriously get involved with food initiatives and coordinating environmental initiatives around the school. His inspirations have played a pivotal role in his achievements, as he is enthused by his mother’s farming
within the Hamilton Harbour region.
His passion for local environmental issues and this dedication to making a difference are amongst the reasons why Chong
has been selected for this Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 award.
history and the diverse “artist canvas” of beautiful flowers and plants of nature.
Once embedded within the McMaster community, Chong played a direct leadership role in directing McMaster Farmstand in its inaugural year. His dedication, diligence, and passion for the cause have been vital in its success and growth. In fact, it has
grown to include several new farms, a new executive team, and a partnership with Rural Routes to have buses transport students to nearby farms so that they can engage in first-hand experience with local farming initiatives.
An environmentalist through and through, Mary Koziol saw
Recently, Chong has participated in the “community gardening
University when she was elected president of the McMaster
project” where he has a goal to gauge interest from the McMaster student body of whether a garden project should be run at Westdale Aviary.
The Starfish | Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
an opportunity to make change for the better at McMaster Students Union (MSU) in 2010.
One campaign promise that would later define her presidency was to bring a farm stand to campus. Almost immediately
after being elected, Koziol began to develop partnerships with
Koziol remains a committed activist, vegetarian and leader
to turn her vision into reality.
that her environmentalism will define both her personal and
Hospitality Services and the McMaster Office of Sustainability
The farm stand, stocked with fresh and locally sourced produce from nearby farms, debuted in the summer of 2010 (with
Andrew Chong, #13 on our list, assisting Koziol with this large
among her peers. No matter her career choice, she is certain professional life.
task). Along with weekly sales, it offered educational outreach around nutrition and local foods.
Koziol also implemented a ban on plastic disposable water bottles in the offices of the MSU administration. Much like at
the farm stand, she used available channels to educate students
on the environmental concerns surrounding water bottles. Plans are in place to extend the ban to all MSU offices in the fall of 2011.
Now that her term with the MSU has concluded, she is
Aliya Dossa has contributed to several environmental initiatives
where she works on initiatives to better connect the university
how to educate others on eco-initiatives.
employed by the office of McMaster University’s president, with the Hamilton community. Her environmental work with
over the past years, educating her about our green planet and
the MSU has lived on through the change in administration
For example, she is the co-founder of “Youth 4 Tap”, spending
priority for the Union.
comparison to bottled water. This past spring, Dossa gained
and will continue, at least in the foreseeable future, to be a
Aside from her duties with McMaster and its students union, Koziol has been a part of the McMaster Outdoors Club, a
member of the Open Streets Hamilton steering committee,
hours raising awareness about the benefits of tap water in valuable experience by planning and facilitating a “Youth 4 Tap
leadership Clinic” for thirty students in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve watershed.
an IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership
“Project Hunger”, where Dossa and her colleagues discovered
has also led a group of university students on a one-month trip
hunger awareness was a new initiative that emerged out of a
delegate and Green Venture community garden volunteer. She
to Brazil through the Global Youth Network. There, she lived in an Amazonian indigenous community, facilitating discussions on environmental concerns in the Amazon.
unnecessary food waste and showcased as a campaign for
project for “Youth 4 Tap”. This situation displays her versatility and ability to think forward.
Dossa is very well-rounded; not only does she collaborate with
and to recognize them in a positive manner. Our number
initiatives (planting trees, painting over graffiti to redecorate
Rachael Wraith, exudes these types of qualities.
a Vancouver-based religious group, undertaking community local communities), she also blogs for the Youthink editorial board for Youthink Magazine.
10 environmentalist on the list, Durham College graduate
Since 2008, Wraith has been the Program Manager of
Durham Sustain Ability, where she develops and implements
Dossa has a very positive, mature perspective on life. “Sometimes, effective marketing and communication strategies for various youth like to explore what can be achieved and they sometimes
environmental initiatives. She has been responsible for
of the possibilities, and when they face the limitations and the
profile and 50 positive media impressions that have had a
don’t think about boundaries,” Dossa said. “They think about all
boundaries later, they can build bridges then. That’s when youth really shine.”
She is a remarkable young leader who is taking huge strides
toward making a difference in her community, local and abroad. With her confidence and generosity, she is sure to go far in life.
Dossa was recently selected to speak at TEDxKidsBC on the
employing 20 key events, resulting in an increased organization significant impact on the region of Durham. Furthermore, she is responsible for integrating corporate partnerships with
Durham Sustain Ability to increase the financial and in-kind support of sustainability programs.
Wraith has an extensive background of environmental
achievements, which separates her from the rest of the list.
topic of how sustainability begins with a sustainable mindset. In 2009, Wraith delivered Green Communities Canada’s Just don’t forget to mention us when you’re on the stage! (We’re kidding… well, kind of ).
EcoDriver program to present within the Durham Region. She
promoted three core messages: drive fuel efficiency, driving a fuel-efficient vehicle, and utilizing public transportation. She reached out to the public through many different outlets such
as community events, media relations, tire pressure clinics, static displays, and workshops.
Another initiative Wraith was involved with was the Think
Outside the Car Sustainable Transportation Contest in 2009. She developed, coordinated, and implemented this contest
to encourage Durham Region businesses and residents to
submit applications on how they use alternatives to vehicle transportation. Winners of the contest were recognized regionally and awarded prizes. The Starfish had a goal to discover committed and enthusiastic people that demonstrate their passion for the environment
The Starfish | Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
In 2011, Wraith was awarded the prestigious Irene Kock
Education and Communication Award, presented by the
Durham Environmental Advisory Committee for the We Have
What does this have to do with environmentalism, do you ask?
Wraith developed, implemented, and successfully executed the
arguably could have an enormous impact on the entire world,
for this program were astounding. Overall, 53,900 community
It’s also fair to say that Prull’s interest in the environment
the Power sustainability program. As the program manager, “Impacting who becomes the president of the United States program solely under her expertise and leadership. The results members were engaged in and collectively they reduced their
environmental footprint by an estimated 2702.83 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
As a Durham College graduate, Wraith displays that with
her Public Relations Advanced Diploma she will be heavily
including environmental policy,” said Prull.
started earlier than that. As world traveler and the University
Development Coordinator for Developing World Connections,
he’s been to Swaziland (twice), Peru, Haiti, Nepal, and Kenya, working on projects that include sustainable rainforest projects and community centre building.
involved through the media and other communication outlets
Currently, Prull works with the David Suzuki Foundation,
a difference in your community, Rachael!
supporters to work on local projects. His supervisor, Aryne
to advocate for environmental initiatives. Thank you for making
managing a community leaders program to empower
Sheppard, notes that his natural ability to think, strategize, and assemble an environmental initiative is impressive and inspirational to her. “Most people have a preconceived notion of what an environmentalist looks like, but he could easily put on
a corporate board with his high degree of communication and professionalism.”
Prull’s got a great interest in bringing different groups to the table – a key element in environmental management. “I see
myself looking to really help define a new type of environmental movement. People our age... they resonate with sustainability
issues, but they don’t identify with a lot of the traditional language and approaches that have been used. I’m really
Have you worked on Obama’s Presidential Campaign? If not, interested in finding ways – cooperative ways, positive ways – to meet someone who has – Michiah Prull.
bring very unlikely groups of people into the movement.”
In 2008, Prull managed a field office in Santa Fe, New Mexico for
the presidential candidate. He was trained in communications
strategy, and it resulted in the highest margin of victory for the Democrats for that area in over 25 years.
Patrick Leslie in Kingston, Ontario, and was awarded a $150,000 business loan to start off the company. Since then, Leslie has recruited
and hired programmers, engineers, business students, and graphic designers to join his team. Earlier this year, Leslie and
Envirolytics participated in the IBM SmartCamp that took place in New York City. Envirolytics was one of the top five
finalists internationally and won the viewer’s choice award with theirYouTube video.
Patrick Leslie, an Engineering and Economics graduate from Queen’s University, has become the founder and CEO of his company, Envirolytics. Leslie has gone above and beyond to
ensure that efficient energy usage is a priority to homeowners in Canada.
His environmental journey began in 2009 when he was selected as the Co-Founder and Sales Engineering Manager
of the Queen’s Solar Design Team (QSDT). This was a student
In the future, Leslie wants to pursue his goals of working in
the environmental realm with his company Envirolytics. He is striving to use their market forces to broaden their choices and alliances with companies such as Scotia Bank. As stated by Leslie, “I love the fact that you can simplify such a complex idea
into a manageable one that’s easy for everyone to understand.” Expect to see more from Envirolytics in the near future!
team, which designed net-zero homes for the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition. Leslie acted as a
crossover between the engineering and business teams and
attained sponsorships in sums of $100,000 from the Dean of
Engineering at Queen’s University to help start the project. After this, QSDT ran educational initiatives on home energy efficiency to high schools and also ran recruitment initiatives to gain membership from over 100 students.
From this experience, Leslie initiated his company in 2011, which he is currently the Founder and CEO of. Leslie
David Lawless has shown incredible creativity, leadership, and
capabilities of professionally administered home energy audits
two national awards for raising awareness about Canada’s
designed and developed smartphone technology that puts the in the hands of the average consumer. He pitched the idea at many student-business competitions and was successful at the P.E.L.A. and Q.S.B. Business Plan Competition this year
The Starfish | Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
innovation with various environmental projects. From winning Boreal Forest and Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National
Park, Lawless has a strong desire to educate the world about environmental issues through creative and entertaining means.
Richard Cioci Lawless participates in Georgian Bay conferences, where he talks to community members about a variety of fascinating environmental topics. His role in “Go Green conferences” at
the University of Guelph allowed him to play a direct roles in steering education towards French-speaking students.
Lawless is no stranger to environmental excellence. He has
started a food co-op to support a local food shelter, titled as a finalist for the “Top 20 Under 20 Youth in Motion”, worked
as an ecosystem technician, and gained much experience as a stewardship ranger. However, his most impressive ability is to
No matter what Richard Cioci does, he finds a way to think
for the environment makes him a strong, goal-oriented leader.
stand up for his beliefs and principles – his capability to stand up
outside the box and make things around McMaster a little
At 21 years of age, Lawless has already inspired his community,
As a member of the McMaster Biology Society (MBS) and the
for a healthier planet. Through his work at the United Nations
Cioci has implemented ways in which offices on campus can
country, and the world to undertake environmental initiatives
(supporting climate justice and water conservation), global environmental summits, and unwavering work in national parks, Lawless has already made solid changes that will certainly continue in the future.
Lawless hopes to continue professionally within the
environmental field, hoping to pursue a Masters degree and work in a developing country.
SWHAT (Student Walk Home Attendant Team) coordinator, reduce power and paper usage. In addition to being a key player in coordinating Evergreen, an environmental conference run by MBS, Richard went on to introduce and single-handedly run
the ThinkRecycle program. He has expanded ThinkRecycle to
include fifteen boxes around campus, which he maintains on a weekly basis.
He has also done some collaborative work with McMaster’s Office of Sustainability to participate in the Earth Day e-waste
collection. As of July 7th 2011, Cioci has helped recycle 4
384 ink and laser cartridges, 185 cell phones, planted 85 trees, and reduced power consumption by 15% in his SWHAT office place.
His goals for the future include converting to fire safe recycling boxes, expanding the ThinkRecycle program even further. Photo source: Product of Newfoundland, flickr.com
Not only is Cioci a vibrant leader on the McMaster campus, Southern Ontario schools in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic but he also plays a hand in making a difference within his
District School Board. Recently elected as a student trustee of
on disposable water bottle sales, for which he and others will be
community by growing all his own fruits and vegetables in his
Richard plans to pursue MBA studies and hopes to work with
the school board, his latest project involves a board-wide ban submitting a policy draft in the fall.
an environmentally-friendly company. For all his environmental
His environmental work through his area’s schools doesn’t
leadership role throughout the campus and community, it is
Green Club, as well as a founding and senior executive
contributions, positive attitude towards making a difference, and
with pleasure that we announce Richard Cioci as number 6 on our list of Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25!
end there. He is co-founder and head of his high school’s
member of the High School Green Club Council, which
connects green clubs and shadows Brampton’s city council. He has been a part of tree plantings, park clean-ups and
clothing drives, and he led a successful effort to certify his high
school as being environmentally friendly through the Ontario ecoSchools program.
During the summer of 2010, Binlayo worked for the Toronto Cycling Union to promote cycling as an environmentally
friendly transportation alternative. Binlayo took his passion for the environment abroad in the summer of 2011, when he
went to Costa Rica to work with the sea turtle population. While there, he helped to establish a recycling program in a small town. In the summer of 2012, he hopes to travel to the At 17 years old, Aian Binlayo is one of the youngest
environmentalists to be recognized in the Top 25. “As a youth,
Arctic with the “Students on Ice” program to study the effects of climate change.
I feel that the environment is a particularly pressing issue,” he
He also writes about the environment as a Junior Journalist with
it’s especially important that we act as true stewards right now.”
Although he’s still young, he knows that big accomplishments
explained. “It’s us who will really be inheriting the Earth, and
Through his persistence, Binlayo has found success in projects
that may have seemed daunting to others in his position. The
“Kill Your Bill Challenge”, of which he is the co-founder and head coordinator, is in its final stages of planning. The challenge
is an energy efficiency program that reaches across the 145
The Starfish | Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
the Toronto Star, and is an ecoMentor with Earth Day Canada. like his are “just a matter of staying persistent and not giving up on what you’re trying to do.”
Katie Stiel cooking one complete recipe on location, alongside recruited local food producers, suppliers, and chefs.
Stiel’s approach to this project came through her Master’s thesis, which truly emphasizes her passion for local grown
food produce. On her own accord, she set up a meeting with
the “eat local” staff at Cable 14 and showed them her research
on this topic. On her own, she finds the farmers and chooses the recipes that are going to be aired on television. She has Katie Stiel’s volunteer and work experiences are so incredibly
unique, making this environmentalist so exciting to read about! Since 2009, Stiel has been the campaign coordinator for the
Good Neighbour Campaign at Environment Hamilton. She is responsible for educating residents on the impacts of local air pollution and empowering them to take action and initiatives within their communities. She also conducts and
utilizes research to create and implement campaign strategies
within Environment Hamilton. Examples of some initiatives
are the White Flag program, which had over 400 participants, and the Lichen Monitoring Study, which trained 140 high
been shooting since January, and the program has now been expanded into two 20-minute monthly segments.
With passion like Stiel’s, The Starfish believes these are the kinds of people that can truly make a difference in their
communities. Once she finishes her Masters in Environmental
Education and Communication at Royal Roads University, Stiel plans on staying in the environmental field and teaching youth about environmental issues and regulations. Since her passion lies within local food produce, ideally she would love
to move into this sector of work in the future. Keep up the amazing work, Katie!
school students and community members. She has also worked with the local government and become involved with the new air regulation that is being implemented, plus eight
other standards that were non-existent before. As stated by Stiel, “This position has enabled me to become very informed about air quality concerns in Hamilton and the way I can
empower people to become more concerned about this issue.” One of the very unique volunteer experiences Stiel holds is that she is the Producer and Host of Hamilton Eat Local on
Cable 14 News. She produces four monthly cooking segments, which intend to promote the benefits and availability of local food within the Hamilton region. Each segment consists of
Photo source: Ken Lund, flickr.com
Alexandria Mitchell even taking the job, Mitchell decided to do the research and making her own, informed decision, showing her commitment to knowing all the facts.
As an international relations major (and commerce minor)
from the University of British Columbia, she recognizes the
need for environmentalism and politics to be intertwined. She sees the need to change the decision-makers, and not to leave the environment out of the political equation. At the very young age of 15, Alexandria Mitchell was making a positive environmental impact in her community.
A school science project led her to present a proposal to install
recycling programs in schools to the city officials of Abbotsford, British Columbia.
Patricia Ross, a city counsellor, remembers the event well. “Her research was so thorough, her arguments so articulate and convincing, that [the counsellors] couldn’t say no!”
Her passion, commitment, and enthusiasm for environmental
issues continue to shine when she assisted the city in preventing garbage incinerators from being built in a nearby town. Before
Photo source: votealexandria.com
The Starfish | Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
Her work within sustainability and energy development has been widely noticed amongst her peers and colleagues. On
top of her degree requirements, she has also held positions
as the Communications Manager for the International Student Energy Summit, on the Fraser Basin Council’s Youth
Committee (and represented them at events like the Cohen Commission), and as a Volunteer Coordinator for the Fraser Valley Conservancy. She’s even sat on a Board of Directors for the Abbotsford Youth Commission.
Mitchell sees herself going into politics, as she feels it is the
best way to make an environmental change. She believes our national climate action plan is essentially non-existent, and strives to change that.
Joanna MacDonald youth observations of climate change, and is currently revising
an article for re-submission to a highly reputable scientific journal, Global Environmental Change.
One of her most unique experiences was abroad, at both the
UN COP15 and COP16 delegations as a representative from
Canada. She’s mentioned that it a tough but rewarding process, full of negotiations and communicating back to Canadian
youth. These experiences have fuelled her ambition to make a “Joanna MacDonald is an environmental leader, an educator, and
a motivator. She is tireless in her dedication to environmental
issues and inspiring in her passion,” said Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, a PhD candidate from the University of Guelph.
MacDonald’s passion for the environment is clear throughout
her every day routines and her ability to advocate all across her campus. She’s been an active leader in her schools “Tap In” program, eliminating bottled water on campus by showing
various documentaries and pushing for big changes through her
positive change nationally, and has inspired her to go back for this year’s COP17 in Durban.
She’s clearly making a change all around the world, but doesn’t
forget about her work in Canada. She has worked for the Friends Uniting for Nature (FUN) Society, running summer day camps for 6-16 year olds in Victoria, British Columbia, and educating
them about how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Topics for
the children include ecological footprints, food consumption, water issues, and energy sources.
MacDonald believes that youth are of the utmost importance
Her interdisciplinary degree in Environmental Sciences has also
for youth is critical. They are crucial stakeholders and crucial
allowed her to gain great knowledge on the changes she wishes
to make in Canada. She has conducted research examining Inuit
when it comes to sustainability. “Mobilizing and getting a voice members for the work that is going on now, and in the future.”
Jonathan Glencross The McGill Food Systems Project, which he also co-founded
and coordinates, was a focused sustainability project for McGill’s food services. The project shifted the school’s food procurement process to favour more local and wholesome foods. The project supported 25 research positions and connected with certifier Local Food Plus.
In the earlier years of his Environment and Development
undergraduate degree, Glencross was a coordinator with the
The Starfish is pleased to award the top spot in its Top
25 Environmentalists Under 25 competition to Jonathan
Glencross, whose inspiring environmental leadership at McGill University makes him a more than worthy recipient.
Sustainable McGill Project. His efforts helped to establish the
McGill Office of Sustainability. After Glencross graduated, he continued his work with the Office of Sustainability and helped establish 10 intern positions, through which he hopes to institutionalize his environmental vision for the University.
His hallmark achievement was co-founding the McGill
Jonathan has given talks and presentations at TEDxMcGill,
and matching funds from the University, Glencross established
Higher Education Conference, MGPO 440: Strategies for
Sustainability Projects Fund. Through a student referendum a $2.5-million campus fund for environmental sustainability
initiatives. His network of 200-plus volunteers helped the
referendum attract the second highest student voter turnout in
the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in
Sustainability, MacDonald Campus Founders’ Day, the McGill Rethink Conference and Green Drinks Montreal.
the University’s history, with 80 per cent of those that voted
According to his Top 25 nominator, “the most remarkable
total of $1.1-million already had been granted to 46 student-
change. Jonathan’s vision for change is grounded not in doing,
being in favour of the Fund. At the time of his nomination, a and staff-led projects.
The Starfish | Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
thing about Jonathan is the way in which he approaches social but in being. He lives out the change he believes in better than anyone I have ever met.”
Sujane Kandasamy is a Honours Biology graduate from
Sam Colbert has been inspired by the journalistic work of
in the Arts. She has always been a wonder kid, which is why she
Foer, fueling his passion for ethical and environmental issues of
McMaster University, currently pursuing a 1-year second degree
would like to be a life-long learner and educator. She strongly
believes that with every positive step (no matter how small), we can build a clean, healthy future.
writers like Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman and Jonathan Safran the food industry. He hopes to use his education to enter into
public policy, where he can help shape a food system that will improve our health and sustain our environment.
Contact the Starfish If you have any questions please contact us at The Starfish.
Sujane Kandasamy, Co-Founder and Editor 289 - 244 - 9963
University. Her environmental practice and concerns stem
Co-Founder and Editor 604 - 992 - 1843
for the environment can make a huge difference is adamantly
Alexandria is an Political Science student at McMaster from her family at home, where the notion of every small act
followed. Alexandria strives to make a difference and make our ecological and environmental problems aware to people who do not already have a vested interest in these important issues.
Peter is an engineer who lives in an Eco-Home in Hamilton’s
Barbara McKean is an award-winning outdoor and
times - twice at both the Provincial and Federal levels. He lives
at Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton. A long-time nature
historic North End. He has been a Green Party candidate four
by the mantra: “A vote is cast with each choice made”. This
includes choosing a career. Peter welcomes contact through Facebook and Twitter (@Peter_Ormond).
environmental educator who heads up education initiatives interpreter and outdoor educator, Barb is a passionate advocate and promoter of hands-on outdoor experience for healthy child
development and is the leading force behind Back to Nature, a new Ontario initiative focusing on ways to better connect more children with the natural world.
Sapphire Singh is a fashion artist, Revolution Wear co-founder,
Kyle is a masters student at Simon Fraser University’s School of
in Hamilton’s environmental community (MACGreen, Green
the future, he plans to travel abroad to learn more about these
foodie and urban gardener. With over fifteen years of experience Venture, etc.) and through her role as the City of Hamilton
Farmers’ Market Presentation Coordinator, Singh combines a passion for the earth and the arts to share homestead skills and develop creative opportunities for engagement and action. Her philosophy is simple: Create Change. Reuse Everything.
Resource and Environmental Management (Burnaby, BC). In
pressing issues that cannot be justified by sitting in a lecture hall. As a budding ecologist, he loves to learn about the issues
surrounding conservation and biodiversity, and is excited to
translate his knowledge into actions for The Starfish community!
Congratulations Top 25 Dearest Readers and Friends; We’ve got lots to say about these 26 individuals (that’s not a typo
– we’ve got a pairing on the list!). As an organization with every
single contributor under 25, we’re all happy and proud to be in the same cohort as these fine environmentalists. Each one of
these people has beaten the odds to prove to their communities they have what it takes to make a difference.
I hope this list astounds you as much as it does us. These young, bright, and astounding eco-advocates are the ones you need to be watching for in the upcoming years. Although, it’s likely you may have already heard of them – after all, our finalists have
made national news headlines, performed on TEDx stages, and
worked with the top environmental NGO’s in Canada (just to name a few designations).
Sometimes, when you read the headlines, you’ll often hear there’s no hope for a green future. After countless interviews with amazing applicants, I can assure you that isn’t the case. Here’s to optimism and a green future.
Co-Founder and Editor
Co-Founder and Editor
Special thanks to:
Alex Pogacean, Promotions Coordinator
Designed by Josh Gordon • joshgordoncreative.com
Printed on recycled paper with vegetable based wax ink.