May is the David Suzuki Foundation's 30X30 Nature Challenge month. It was heartwarming to see 600 youth and adult participants in this year's Richmond Earth Day Youth Summit cheering Jason Boyce, sustainability manager for Nature's Path, as he announced his company has signed on to the month-long challenge.
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Both sponsors of the REaDY Summit 2013 have joined the David Suzuki Foundation's annual event, the other being Harvest Power.
Boyce was the motivational speaker for the closing ceremony. He is also a board member for the Sustainable Food Trade Association and has assisted in the development of an organic industry code of conduct for suppliers and supply chain partners. He has been leading his company in achieving ambitious sustainability goals such as zero waste by 2013 and climate neutral by 2020. In his speech, he reminded youth leaders and participants that no action is too small when it comes to helping our environment to stay healthy.
Boyce's message fits perfectly with Sarika Cullis-Suzuki's keynote speech. As the youngest daughter of David Suzuki and Tara Cullis, Sarika grew up with no shortage of inspiration about environmental stewardship and social justice. Sarika struck a chord with the young audience by reminding them to never stop looking at the connection in nature, as there is always a mystery for us to discover.
This year's REaDY Summit also featured winners of the Earth Day Speech Contest: Grade 9 McMath Secondary student Angelica Poversky, Grade 7 James McKinney Elementary student Hallie Cheng, and Grade 2 Daniel Woodward Elementary student Chloe Suen.
In her speech, Angelica wrote, "The earth is our mother and we treat her like a goner, because we do not believe in the possibility of coming together to achieve a sustainable future built on green....So who are you to deceive? If we all come together to believe, the earth is ours and let us breathe."
Twelve-year-old Hallie's winning speech focused on plastic bags and what we can do to eliminate the damage they do to our planet. Chloe Suen is the youngest winner of the REaDY Summit Speech contest, and judging from her winning speech, it looks like she has already got it! "How can we help the earth? Do little things make a big difference; yes they do!! If we use both sides of the paper, we use fewer trees. If we use water bottles and containers rather than plastic...it would make the earth healthier...If everyone can try their best to reduce, reuse and recycle, we kids can have beautiful parks and playgrounds to play in and Earth will be very healthy."
Apart from being inspired and share the environmental camaraderie, participants and workshop presenters also joined the morning Summit to make connections with each other. For the David Suzuki Foundation's Queen of Green, Tovah Paglaro, hosting close to 80 participants at her workshop on DIY Green Cleaners surely kept her energized. "It was inspiring to see so many kids (and their parents) keen to take control of their environmental health. What we put on our bodies has really tangible implications for our personal health and the greater health of the natural world — these kids got that!" To maximize her outreach, Tovah has sent this link for those who missed the workshop.
David Suzuki Foundation public engagement specialist Sophika Kostyniuk is not new to the REaDY Summit. This year, she hosted the sustainable seafood workshop for people who love seafood and want to be part of the solution.
"Over a billion people on the planet depend on seafood as their number one source of protein," she said. "Our oceans are feeling incredible pressures due to poor management and overfishing that has occurred over the past half century. This critical matter is what was explored during the REaDY summit, and I found it tremendously rewarding spending time sharing information with both the students and the larger community, as well as offering solutions to some of the current dilemmas. We explored how sustainable seafood has come to the forefront of progressive food movements, and what each individual can do to have a positive influence on the health of our oceans."
This is the first time Shannon Moore, public engagement specialist for the David Suzuki Foundation, hosted a workshop at the youth summit. This is how she sums up the REaDY Summit 2013: "The energy was enough to make me want to dance in the rain! The day was full of diverse ways to become involved and to witness our connections to nature and each other. We are a web of life that is all interconnected. "
So, year two of the REaDY Summit has come and gone. As a member of the organizing committee, I thank my lucky stars for another year of stellar teamwork and rewarding connections. There is no better way to sum up the feelings of the organizing committee — which includes representatives from the City of Richmond, Richmond School District, Richmond students and green ambassadors — than with this quote from Richmond teacher consultant Kevin Lyseng: "Great ideas need to be shared. Remember to talk about one interesting thought or idea that you learned at the conference with those around you."