Immersing ourselves in the great outdoors and connecting with nature has never felt more important after a year of spending most of our time at home.
For many Canadians, this period of uncertainty has presented space for reflection — time to reassess passions and career paths. If this has been the case for you, and you’re eager to connect with the next generation of difference-makers in the name of ocean conservation and awareness, stay with us.
Ocean Wise is currently recruiting 160 youth and young professionals (aged 18 to 30) across Canada for the next wave of its Ocean Bridge ocean service program, made possible by the Government of Canada through the Canada Service Corps.
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity connects like-minded individuals who care about protecting our oceans, rivers, and lakes.
Ocean Bridge began in 2018, and since then, over 350 youth have contributed more than 124,000 hours of ocean-related community service and engagement in communities nationwide.
Now, all Canadian youth and permanent residents aged between 18 and 30 are eligible to apply for a spot on the 11-month program. Applicants don’t need to have any prior experience — just a drive to take action for ocean and freshwater conservation.
During the program, participants become part of a national team that connects virtually to co-create and deliver ocean and waterway service projects in their local communities. They receive everything from ocean literacy distance learning to individualized coaching from Ocean Wise mentors, plus funding to bring the local service projects they design to life.
Beyond that, they get to enjoy two expenses-paid immersive learning journeys in places like Montreal, Vancouver, Haida Gwaii, and the North Shore of Lake Superior, with fellow Ocean Bridge youth. Travel during this year’s program will be pending COVID-19 health and safety regulations.
Youth who join the program can also apply for grants and subsidies and access a variety of resources and services to support them through their Ocean Bridge experience.
“After a life-changing learning journey with Ocean Bridge to Haida Gwaii in May 2018, I knew I wanted to do something more with my experience,” said Da Chen, the Ontario-based co-founder of The Pristine Blue Initiative.
“Knowing that there are many other passionate and amazing young people in Toronto, I wanted to reach out to them and make a difference in our communities. The Pristine Blue Initiative started off as a simple idea, but now it’s something much bigger.”
Here in Vancouver, Cayley Elcombe said she was able to develop her own project “from a simple idea to a full-blown website” — KnowNorthShore.ca — through her participation in the program in 2020.
“Because we live in an oceanside community, I think it’s especially important to learn about it so we can protect it, plan shoreline cleanups and have events that are centred around environmental conservation and stewardship,” she noted.
Lasse Gustavsson, president and CEO of Ocean Wise, said Ocean Bridge has grown into one of the organization’s most “exciting and impactful conservation and ocean literacy initiatives” over the past three years.
“The power of this program is that it empowers youth to direct their own conservation initiatives, in their own communities. Young people are often talked about as the next generation of leaders, but this program proves that they are in fact our leaders today. We are honoured to be a part of that journey with them and amplify their voices to the level they deserve to be heard.”
If you’re keen to make a difference in your community while building your professional skill set, you can apply for a place on this year’s Ocean Bridge program now. Applications are open until Monday, March 22, so be sure to get yours in before then.
Those successful will be selected to represent Canada’s social, economic, and geographic diversity. As such, the program experience can be especially valuable for young people from communities where ocean literacy and conservation opportunities are not typically offered.
Since all water is connected to the ocean, youth from inland communities, the Prairies or the Territories, for example, can have as much — or an even greater — impact on ocean stewardship through Ocean Bridge as those living in coastal communities or big cities.
To learn more about this coveted opportunity and the impact you could make through the Ocean Bridge program, visit bridge.ocean.org.