My experience as a PLT Canada representative at the 2020 Forests Ontario Conference
March 17, 2020
By Amy Hall, PLT Canada Green Jobs Youth, Grand Bend, ON
Being a youth at the starting line of your career can be daunting at times. Even if you know the direction you are headed in, trying to figure out the correct sequence of steps can be confusing.
As a young person, I’m often told that everything will work out, that all my collective experiences and everyone I meet along the way will be pieces of my career puzzle. I believe it’s true, and recently I got the opportunity to add a few more pieces to my puzzle.
Because I was part of its Green Jobs program in the summer of 2019, Project Learning Tree Canada gave me a scholarship (along with other youth) to attend the 2020 Forests Ontario Conference in Alliston, ON.
Strength in numbers
What did I experience at the conference? I got inspired. I made friends. I learned a lot.
The 2020 Forests Ontario Conference started with a Youth Day, which brought together over 80 youth from various backgrounds. It was really exciting. Being surrounded by likeminded and determined individuals with a passion for conservation and forestry left me feeling motivated and hopeful about my career.
Later on, we attended networking events where I also met industry professionals. I had powerful conversations about education and career aspirations. I talked to professionals about conservation. I also had many laughs with people whom I now consider friends.
Industry professionals told us about their career journeys – which sometimes included things that were never in their plans to begin with. We learned that those side tracks and unplanned challenges are okay too, as they can lead to even greater opportunities.
The actual conference day was a whirlwind of learning. I listened to speakers talk about ecology, ecosystem restoration, and single use plastics, all of which I am very passionate about. I also learned about conservation finance and green architecture. These were topics I knew very little about but found very interesting as well.
The speakers and guests were very diverse and there were many opportunities to learn from them. One quote in particular resonated with me: “If someone gives you an opportunity, don’t question it. Take it. If you don’t know how to do the job, learn how to do it.” It’s a good reminder to never sell yourself short. If someone believes in you, it’s because they see potential in you. You should trust that you’re capable and will rise and grow with every challenge you face.
My career path
At times, thinking about my career path can be stressful and feel isolating. However, it’s reassuring to connect with others along the same path as me.
I encourage other youth to put themselves out there. Jump at opportunities. Apply for scholarships. Go to conferences. Ask questions. Gain a few more of those puzzle pieces. Even if it seems a bit intimidating.
My experience at the 2020 Forests Ontario Conference reminded me that there is so much more to learn. I’m sure I’ll keep learning my entire career. It also reminded me that, even if I stumble, my steps will eventually take me where I want to go. Who knows, they may also lead me to an entirely new destination, one that I didn’t even know I wanted.
About Amy Hall
Amy Hall is a recent graduate from the University of Guelph where she completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology and Conservation. Amy has worked for Ontario Parks for five years where she has held resource management duties, including sampling and monitoring a wide variety of plant and animal species at risk. Amy is currently a Resource Management Leader at Pinery Provincial Park. A large portion of her work and volunteer experience pertains to herptiles, with a focus on turtles. She has researched and monitored turtles in various locations throughout Southern and Central Ontario. Connect with Amy on Instagram.
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