Past David Suzuki Fellowship Winners
Shanshan is a teacher candidate in Outdoor and Experiential Education, and the President of the Education Student Society at Queen’s University. She is an adventurer, an entrepreneur, a yoga instructor, an escape room enthusiast and a MEC Outdoor Nation Ambassador.
She grew up in China near the gulf of the Yellow Sea and came to Canada with her father when she was 10 years old. As a young adult, she studied Social Determinants of Health and Health Promotion and was struck by the reactive nature of our health care system and wanted to seek alternative ways in building healthy communities. Shanshan stumbled upon the healing powers of the outdoors after she spontaneously quit her job, packed a tent and started travelling as a hitchhiker. She got hooked on exploring new places and learning from the land and the people. Shanshan feels most connected on the trails and in the mountains and sees the outdoors as the greatest classroom that can bring people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities and experiences together. The land has so much to teach us and the expertise lives in the experience.
Shanshan is interested in exploring the intersection of environmental, outdoor and experiential education, and health promotion. In her outdoor education practicum, she worked with youth with addictions and mental health issues in an alternative therapeutic outdoor school. She wants to dedicate her work to bringing meaningful and innovative educational experiences in and out of the classroom. Currently, she is passionate about teaching the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals through escape room games to help youth see themselves as game changers.
“What if we harnessed the power of outdoor and environmental education to change the way we see and interact with the world? Imagine what’s possible.”
Grand Prize Winner
Erin became a teacher because she believes the sharing of knowledge has the power to transform and heal our world. Erin developed this understanding during her time spent learning and working at Trent University, and strove to incorporate this belief into her teaching practice as a teacher candidate at Nipissing University. While studying Indigenous Environmental Studies at Trent, Erin had the privilege of learning from Indigenous Elders and scholars about Indigenous Ways of Living in Nature. During her studies, Erin researched extensively the ways in which our food systems are connected to environmental sustainability. This research inspired Erin to complete an internship on an organic farm upon graduating from Trent. Erin’s first experience as an environmental educator came when she spent two years facilitating environmental programming for students living in residence at Trent. She was able to connect students with environmental initiatives happening on campus and in the community, in addition to mentoring students as they planned their own environmental events. During her time at Nipissing, Erin worked to weave her understanding of the environment into her studies in Education as much as possible. She facilitated workshops on how to incorporate food literacy, and Indigenous environmental perspectives into one’s teaching practice, in addition to creating a resource on how to design and implement an outdoor environmental inquiry program for young learners. During her practicum placements, Erin experimented with different ways students could engage in environmental education. She taught lessons on the impacts of mining on humans and the environment, used natural materials as manipulatives in math patterning lessons, explored with students the nature art of Andy Goldsworthy, and facilitated outdoor education DPA activities. Erin looks forward to continuing to explore the abundant possibilities for environmental education inside and outside the classroom as she embarks on her career as an educator.
Jessie has loved being outdoors since she can remember, spending her summers at wilderness camp and on long camping trips. She spent time leading canoe trips through the lakes of Temgamai as a young adult and this is where she developed a passion for environmental sustainability and a meaningful relationship with nature. Jessie lived and taught in Argentina for a year, where she developed a love for education and for hiking! She then went on to complete her Master of Teaching at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, where she had the pleasure of working alongside Dr. Hilary Inwood on the environmental sustainability initiatives at the school. With a background in visual art, Jessie hopes to integrate her passion for the arts and for environmental sustainability in her work this fall as a visual arts teacher. She loves to bring her students outdoors, providing them opportunities to be inspired by the natural world. She strongly believes in the power of creativity, and enjoys working with students to generate real change in their communities – using creativity as a means to explore innovative solutions to environmental sustainability. Her dream is to someday work in a completely outdoor classroom, infusing both her love for teaching and her love for getting messy outside!
Leslie was first introduced to Environmental Education when she lead youth with learning disabilities and mental health challenges on canoe trips and hiking trips in northern Ontario. She loved her experience working with youth in an outdoors setting and this led her to pursue her Master of Arts in Child Study and Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. This past year, Leslie completed a grade 3/4 teaching placement in a Dene community school in the Northwest Territories. During her placement, a Dene Elder took the class out on the land to go muskrat trapping. This was one of the most exhilarating days of her teaching career thus far and her positive experience in the Northwest Territories has inspired her to teach in the north next year. Next year, Leslie will be teaching grade 1 in an Ojibwe “fly-in” community in Northwestern Ontario through Teach for Canada. The school is surrounded by the beautiful outdoors so it will allow for ample opportunities to explore the environment through an inquiry lens. Leslie is enthusiastic about the Dr. David Suzuki Fellowship because she is eager to deepen her knowledge of environmental inquiry education as she embarks on her teaching career in the north.
Jennifer Ford Sharpe
Jennifer Ford Sharpe is a graduate from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Jennifer uses visual art to promote eco-literacy and responsible citizenship. Jennifer believes that by observing and creating in nature, students gain a deeper appreciation for their natural surroundings. She also uses visual art as a tool to bring awareness to environmental issues such as waste or climate change. Prior to her degree, Jennifer managed the children programs at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection where she integrated environmental education into family programs, workshops and tours. Jennifer also worked on Imagining My Sustainable City (IMSC), a collaborative project with the TDSB, which teaches students about sustainable architecture and urban design.
At OISE, Jennifer has written articles on art in school gardens, led professional development sessions on eco-art, and co-chaired OISE’s 2014 Environmental and Sustainability Conference. Jennifer worked with professor Hilary Inwood to lead community art projects based on environmental issues around campus. Most recently, they installed a mural with hundreds of painted birds done by OISE Bed, MT and MA students. The large-scale mural brings awareness to FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Project). FLAP is an organization that informs people about how lights in high-rise buildings can skew the perception in birds and lead to bird injuries and deaths.
Cynthia Chan graduated from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and also holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies. She is passionate about integrating environmental education into teaching practices to support students in becoming responsible citizens. Prior to teaching, Cynthia coordinated energy conservation initiatives for various transit agencies to become more energy efficient. She has also worked on active transportation projects to advocate walking to school for students. In her studies at OISE, she promoted environmental education by facilitating professional development activities for her fellow teachers through hands on workshops and Eco-Fairs. Cynthia strongly believes it is important to learn about the relationships of people to the environment and to preserve natural resources for future generations. She encourages her students to inquire about the environment, experience in the environment and to care for the environment.
Paul Tucker is a graduate of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and passionate about bringing outdoor education into the classroom. An experienced environmental educator, Paul began as a camp counselor – leading training courses at Algonquin Provincial Park and Killarney Provincial Park and engaging in discussions and inquiries about the natural environment. This experience was a foundation for Paul’s interest and passion for the outdoor environment. After his counseling experience and after completing his first degree, he worked as a Research Assistant at the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa. With a group of researchers, Paul worked on investigations concerning water quality in a specific province, Mpumalanga. Although the level of this research was well above elementary school level, Paul knew that he wanted to bring this level of engagement in working with students investigating environmental issues. In 2009, Paul became Environmental Education Manager at EcoSpark, implementing guided inquiry programs as well as a particular project named Changing Currents. This program got students outside into their own neighborhood waterways and using biological indicators (bugs) to assess the health of the stream. Paul is keen to share his experience and enthusiasm with students and infuse his practice with environmental education.
Christine graduated from the Trent University Bachelor of Education Consecutive Program. Growing up in the Yukon Territory, Christine experienced a childhood full of outdoor activities and adventures, including canoeing, camping, hiking, and even building and sleeping in her own snow cave! Christine joined the Eco Mentorship Certificate Program at Trent University, learning from outdoor educators and science teachers, and became committed to integrating environmental education in her own teaching. Christine strongly believes that when students are given the opportunity to explore, observe, and experiment in their environment, they are more curious and caring citizens of the Earth. In a Kindergarten placement, Christine worked with her young learners to consider the impact that they make on the earth and help put their learning into practice by sharing ideas about everyday choices such as saving electricity and being conscious of water use. Christine is a passionate teacher, dedicated to bringing the environment into her classroom and nurturing effective learners and citizens.
Lisa graduated from the Bachelor of Education Program at OISE in June 2011. She worked hard to foster Environmental Education in lessons spanning the curriculum, using real-world applications that made learning about the environment an interesting and hands-on experience for students in Junior and Intermediate grades. Lisa studied Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of Guelph and gained an appreciation for experiential learning while completing courses at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. These courses allowed her to practice her laboratory skills in real life scenarios, during field studies and exploratory trips. Her interest in Environmental Education led Lisa to become involved in environmental initiatives on a national and international scale. She has worked for Ontario Parks, the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, the Nature Conservancy in St. Croix, the Ontario Science Centre, and the Richmond Hill Stewardship Program at Evergreen.
Amir is a 2010 graduate from the Bachelor of Education program at OISE. Amir has made exceptional efforts to create integrated, self-directed learning opportunities about our relationship to the Earth’s natural systems during his Teaching Practicum. As a former biology student of Ecology and Conservation at York University, Amir also shows a long-standing personal desire to learn and now teach about the environment. Additionally, his contributions to student learning outside of the classroom and in the local community are a testament to the pervasiveness of his dedication to Environmental Education.