Lerena Ashevak wasn’t sure if she wanted a career in the environment. But, the high school student thought she would give a green job a try. Now, after working as a summer student for WWF-Canada’s Iqaluit office, she is more confident than ever that a career in the green sector is in her future.
“What I love most about my job is how I get to gain some experience working in an office environment, and work on projects that I find interesting,” says Lerena. “I also get a feeling that I’m contributing to a cause that I believe in.”
Thanks to funding from the CPRA’s Green Jobs Initiative, which is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Summer Work Experience program, WWF-Canada’s Iqaluit office was able to hire Lerena to support a variety of projects – including in the community, and within the organization – and further its work on environmental issues of importance to the Arctic.
In her summer student role, Lerena worked on plastic reduction within the company, organized community cleanups, and helped to collect data on Iqaluit’s freshwater.
“What I love most about my job is how I get to gain some experience working in an office environment" - Lerena Ashevak, student
“Lerena has been extremely helpful in improving some of the learning resources we’ve been working on for educating people about plastics, as well as educating people about energy,” explains Martha Lenio, her supervisor and Specialist, Renewable Energy, Arctic for WWF-Canada. “The shoreline cleanup was a great opportunity to interact directly with the community on a waste management initiative as well.”
As part of the shoreline cleanup, Lerena says she gained experience in contacting companies and recruiting residents to join the cleanup.
In the end, the group collected at least 15 bags of garbage and significantly improved the state of the creek next to their office.
Martha adds that Lerena has also improved a number of WWF-Canada’s educational materials by making them more accessible to Northern youth, and helped improve WWF’s internal business practices to bring down its own carbon footprint.
“She’s also done a wonderful job on an internal WWF plastics reduction project that we wanted to do, but didn’t have funding for. So hopefully her work will have enabled WWF as a whole in reducing the amount of plastics we’re responsible for putting into the environment,” Martha says, adding that she would “definitely” apply for funding again if given the opportunity. “As WWF is an ENGO, I have a very limited budget to support my project. Without the CPRA support, I would not have been able to hire a student. Having Lerena has helped move a number of projects forward that otherwise I would have struggled to complete this summer.”
“This has made me a lot more aware of exactly how important conservation work is" - Lerena Ashevak, student
Lerena says that the job has also made her personally appreciate nature more.
Every day, she says she had the opportunity to work with people who know the environmental issues the facing the Arctic, and how to best preserve it.
But since she had the opportunity to work for an international company, Lerena says she also had a chance to learn about environmental projects around the world.
“This has made me a lot more aware of exactly how important conservation work is,” she says. “I would definitely apply for jobs like this again. Environmental science is the study I want to pursue after school, and this job fits in line with that goal.”
The CPRA’s Green Jobs Initiative supports Goal 3 ‘Connecting People & Nature’ and Goal 5 ‘Recreation Capacity’ within the Framework for Recreation in Canada. The Framework serves as a foundation for the work of parks and recreation sector.
To read all success stories go to: https://www.cpra.ca/stories