by Sophie Roy
I would like to thank you for sponsoring me for the Ontario Nature Youth Summit in Orillia. I had an amazing time and learned so much during my weekend by the lake!
I really wanted to go to the summit because I felt that I needed to involve myself in the community more. I am new to the OFNC, and before this group I knew of no group or community that was interested in nature.
This summit has introduced me to Ontario Nature, which is an amazing organization that I look forward to being involved with in the future. I also got to meet loads of bright young naturalists, which was very refreshing and inspiring. I was pleasantly surprised that there are so many other young people that want to make a difference. The summit has given me the opportunity to connect with these people, discuss environmental issues and to work with them to find solutions to those issues.
I really enjoyed myself and learned about so many things; birds, herps, plants, astronomy, insects, and much more! Here are some of my highlights.
On the first day, we were lucky enough to be able to hold many of Ontario’s reptiles. I learned so much that night; I had no idea we had so many types of snakes and turtles! We learned about eastern fox snakes, hog-nosed snakes, blue racers, spotted turtles, wood turtles, and Blanding’s turtle, among others. My favourite was the hog-nosed snake, an incredible species that is, unfortunately, threatened.
I learned about sunspots, and got to see some close up. There was an astronomer at the summit, and he had brought his telescope to give us our first look at Saturn. He had told us his first time seeing Saturn is exactly what got him hooked on astronomy. You could clearly see the rings, and even one of its moons! It really was an amazing sight.
I met an amazing man called Skid Crease. He gave an inspiring (and entertaining!) presentation, and I had the pleasure of sitting with him during lunch the next day. It was incredible to be able to talk to someone who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, or to take action. Whether it’s for a healthy environment or for other causes, we need more people like him.
Finally, I got my 200th bird at the summit! Each morning, there was a nice little hike offered by some of the organizers of the summit. I got to see a lot of familiar (but no less exiting) birds, and my first blue-headed vireo! What a great way to start the day.
I am going to try to learn more about the subjects that were covered at the summit. The summit has inspired me to report (and look for!) reptiles and amphibians, learn to ID native plants, and keep an eye on the sky. I really enjoyed being introduced to so many different fields!
Coming back from the summit, I have decided to make an environmental club at my school for next year. I talked to so many young naturalists who had successful clubs, and they have inspired me to do the same.
Thank you so much for this experience. The summit has taught me so much, and I have met so many interesting people. It really was an incredible experience that I will never forget.