Ontario Nature deeply appreciates Shelly Candel’s generous support of Ontario Nature’s Nature Guardians program. We asked Shelly to tell us why this program is important to her. The Nature Guardians are my hope for the future.

I love the outdoors – feeling the fresh air, the sun and the wind. I love hearing songbirds and frogs. I know how important it is to protect wild spaces, places that are not barren and haven’t been paved over, and that are habitats for so many species.

At the same time, I worry that every day decisions are being made based only on economic considerations at the expense of wildlife. These decisions rob my kids, and grandkids to come, of the kinds of life experiences I’ve had. I strongly believe that each of us needs to take personal action to prevent this from happening – so Ontario Nature’s goals of protecting, connecting, advocating and educating the wider community strike a resonant chord in me.

Our young people are really the best hope we have for the future, and I am so happy to be able to assist the Nature Guardians in learning about, and promoting, the protection of our ecosystems, and in becoming leaders. I hope that with knowledge, networking contacts and fresh enthusiasm these young people will be able to turn this province around so that we have natural spaces where more generations can hear songbirds and frogs.

Please join me and support our youth of today in becoming the protectors of our natural world tomorrow.

The Nature Guardians program was developed – with the early support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation – to respond to an urgent need in society to connect children with their natural world. This program cultivates an ethic of conservation among the next generation of environmentalists. Programs are developed by youth for youth – empowering young people today to create conservation programs that engage their peers.

Ongoing financial support is necessary to continue to foster the next generation of environmental leaders. If you would like to get involved, contact Kimberley MacKenzie at kimberleym@ontarionature.org or 416-444-8419, ext. 236.

Dear Shelly,

Thank you so much for your generous donation to Ontario Nature! It truly means a lot to have the support of wonderful people to help our beautiful environment.

My name is Stephanie Glanzmann, and I’m 15 years old. I lead the environmental group at my school and I love to be outside. I especially love to portage and go biking. Nature has always played a large role in my life. When I was younger, I knew I wanted to promote environmental change, but I never really knew how. Every time I heard “Youth need to be more involved,” “Be the change you want to be,” and any other speech used to inspire youth, it always sent a pang of guilt through my stomach. I didn’t want to sit passively and watch our earth be destroyed, but getting involved with such a massive issue seemed too daunting. When I became part of Ontario Nature’s Youth Council, I knew I took a step to change my life and hopefully the environment for the better. The staff from Ontario Nature and my friends from Nature Guardians inspire me to broaden my ideas and become a leader. I’m now more confident, driven and have a greater sense of purpose.

When I go out in nature, a feeling of peace overwhelms me, and I never want that feeling to die out. It puts so much hope in my heart to know that as long as there are people like you, Shelly, the peace will always remain in nature. Thank you!

Stephanie Glanzmann