We are a group of passionate youth based out of the Calgary Board of Education’s CTS centre in Calgary AB. We work to promote youth engagement in the National Parks and environmental issues. We operate based on the mission statement:
We, the organizers, operate on the idea that the best way to design the future of these areas is to meaningfully engage youth in the decisions that will impact them and generations to come.
The Canadian Rockies Youth Network is a joint venture between the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley and the Canadian Rockies Youth Summit. This network will provide educational programming to help engage more students in conservation, support youth action projects, and most importantly provide a coalition of youth voices when it comes to decision making in the Canadian Rockies. In 2021, our youth committee planned and hosted a second annual Canadian Rockies Youth Summit *virtually*. Many of the sessions can be found on our YouTube Channel. Previously we brought students from mountain communities across the Canadian Rockies to Jasper National Park when they discussed conservation issues related to the future of the region. This was the first annual Summit designed by youth and led by youth. However, it was also in partnership with many groups in these areas like Indigenous Peoples from various local Treaty territories, reserves, unceded territories and Metis Regions, as well as Parks Canada, CPAWS, the Biosphere Institute, Y2Y, Wildsight, Inside Education, Alberta Parks, B.C. Parks, AMPPE, local Chamber of Commerce and natural resource companies, post-secondary institutes and more.
Despite the difficult year of shifts from in-person to online learning due to Covid, the 2021 Virtual Summit was a success that expanded our reach and increased attendance at CRYS. Over 200+ students and educators attended the online summit! In 2021, 4 High School students ran the 3 Day CRYS, with a 7-teacher/student tech crew, featuring 30+ speakers (incl. 10 Indigenous), 6 musicians (incl. 4 Indigenous and 2 LGBTQ2+), 5 artists (incl. 3 Indigenous) presenting to over 300 participants across 15 Albertan Communities and 2 Indigenous communities. This was a substantial increase from the previous year’s summit that had 40 students participate and attend.
The Canadian Rockies Youth Summit (and thus network) was born out of the work of high school students studying human impacts on National Parks. These students decided to get other youth involved and as a result, our organization was born!
Director, Canadian Rockies Youth Network
Grade 11 Student
Central Memorial High School
Ava Vanderbeek is first female director of the Canadian Rockies Youth Network. Last year she was the Youth Outreach Representative for the Canadian Rockies Youth Network. She is currently working to expand the network by presenting to students, building excitement and assisting with Action Projects. By talking to classes and teachers, she is helping to connect youth across Alberta with the importance of the Canadian Rockies.
As a child Ava grew up camping, hiking and snowshoeing in the rockies with both her family and Girl Guides of Canada. Her passion for the environment was sparked with the Girl Guides
‘leave no trace’ approach to outdoor recreation. As a teen, she spent a weekend learning and partaking in sustainable land management practices conducting non-native invasive species removal from a farm in southern Alberta.
Ava’s motivation to be involved with the Summit is rooted in her Indigenous ancestry. She believes the environment is our home and ours to take care of for all creatures.
Ava has earned her Lady Baden Powell award from Girl Guides of Canada, received a certificate in Youth Leadership from Toastmasters International, and is a 2 time recipient of a Community of Caring Award.
As of late, Ava has been heavily involved in the creation of educational videos on leave no trace and conservation principles. When working with the Biosphere Institute’s Wildsmart Campaign, she hopes to be able to spread knowledge and laughter to youth experiencing the wildlife. She is also representing the Canadian Rockies Youth Network at the Pan-Canadian Youth Working Group for Biodiversity and Climate. This group is part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Task Force bringing together Canadian youth organizations for conversations to share and elevate their contributions addressing the issues of biodiversity and climate.
Ava’s favorite animal is the Canada Moose. She finds herself relating to the animal on a spiritual level, as they are almost 7 feet tall and she is almost 5’10”- on the taller side for most girls. She also finds them inspiring, as a moose can dive up to 6 meters (one of their predators include an orca) and she hopes that one day she could do the same. In her spare time Ava enjoys horsebacking riding, water skiing, mountain biking, downhill skiing, but not cross county skiing, as she has fallen multiple times on her face and decided to never cross country ski again. snowshoeing, and walking her dog McKinnely (named after the Mountain!)
Graphic Designer, Canadian Rockies Youth Network
Central Memorial High School, Calgary
Thomas Moloney is a grade 11 student at Central Memorial High School in Calgary. Thomas joined the Summit planning committee last year and has been working on the promotional content for the Summit making posters and infographics. Since he was a young child, Thomas has enjoyed venturing to the Canadian Rockies. He loves long walks in the mountains and paddling the beautiful glacial rivers. He plans to continue planning the Summit next year. He wants to work in a field related to the environment in the future.
Youth Engagement Coordinator, Biosphere Institute
Mallory recently joined the Biosphere Institute team in 2021 as the Youth Education Coordinator. Her primary focus will be launching the Canadian Rockies Youth Network and co-designing the 2021 Canadian Rockies Youth Summit with a group of students from Calgary Memorial High School. The summit and network aims to inspire hope through action. She takes a creative, design thinking approach to her life and work. Mallory will be guiding student action projects with workshops, and mentorship opportunities. She will harness students’ creativity through graphic design, photography, videography, art, and music to help them communicate their messages, projects, and mobilize change within their community.
As a born and raised Banff local, Mallory believes in the power of the Canadian Rockies landscape. When people connect with the land, Mallory believes they will want to protect it. Growing up in a world class tourism destination, Mallory believes the Bow Valley is in a unique position to be a leader in sustainability. She grew up hiking to ACC backcountry huts with her mom every summer, sitting on The Town of Banff’s Compost Board, practicing radio dj-ing at Mountain FM, and writing about her mountain adventures. For the past 2 years, Mallory has been working in Kananaskis Country as an Alberta Parks environmental educator with a focus on watershed education and indigenous knowledge.
Mallory pursued a Bachelor of Science in Geology at Mount Royal University because she wanted to know what made the mountains as much as she wanted to hike, climb, and run up them. When she’s not working you will find Mallory teaching her 3 year old son pizza and french fries on the ski hill, planning her next backpacking trip, or zipping up to the nordic centre for a mountain bike or cross country ski.
Director of Operations and Technology, Co-Founder of the Canadian Rockies Youth Summit
Grade 12 Student
Central Memorial High School
Alexander Stratmoen is a grade 12 student currently studying at Central Memorial High School in Calgary Alberta. He began working on the Canadian Rockies Youth Summit in grade ten after his friend Ben became frustrated with the lack of youth voice in conservation. Alexander is passionate about bringing more opportunities to youth, and after previously working on a platform to get more youth engaged in volunteering with Ben and Lucas this seemed like a natural extension of his work.
Growing up so close to the mountains Alexander has always loved spending time in the outdoors and is passionate about environmental stewardship. Whether through trail running, mountain biking, hiking, photography, kayaking and canoeing, camping, or surfing, Alexander always finds ways to spend more time outside! These spaces help to bring him calm and relieve some of the stress of his (busy) everyday life. This is why he is so passionate about ensuring these spaces last for generations to come.
Alexander currently runs a media company along with a friend and works as a software developer for a local fitness company, so he feels completely at home as our Logistics and Technology Director. In his free time, he also volunteers with the Calgary Foundation, is part of Central Memorial’s Principal Advisory Council and Technical Theatre Program, runs track and cross country competitively with the Calgary warriors track club, and provides lighting and AV services to events in the Calgary area.
Alexander is hoping to pursue a degree in Computer Engineering next year and after that start his own company where he can focus on using new disruptive technologies to help in the fight against important issues such as climate change. Last summer he was selected as one of 40 high school students worldwide to participate in the International Summer School of Young Physicists and the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo. After this program, he became very interested in quantum computing and how this technology can aid in the solution to many complex environmental and social problems.
Co-Director, Founder of the Canadian Rockies Youth Summit
Grade 12 Student
Central Memorial High School
Benjamin Green is a grade 12 student from Central Memorial High School in Calgary, Alberta. He began working on the summit in his grade 10 year while enrolled in his Energy and Environmental Innovations class. Initially, he wanted to host a youth forum on the proposed Lake Louise Ski Area expansion, but quickly realized there was not a place for him to share his views on the issue. Over the next year, Ben and his friends worked to create the first Canadain Rockies Youth Summit to give other youth the chance to share their voices on issues they feel are important.
Ben has always found a home in the mountains, visiting many times to ski, canoe, and hike. For him, the mountains provide a space to think and distance himself from the pressure of everyday life. Now, Ben works as a ski instructor at Mount Norquay sharing his love of the mountains with others.
Co-Director, Co-Founder of the Canadian Rockies Youth Summit
Grade 12 Student
Central Memorial High School
Lucas Braun is a grade 12 student at Central Memorial High School in Calgary AB and is the co-director of this year’s Canadian Rockies Youth Summit. His interest in the Canadian Rockies Youth Network began when he enrolled in the Energy and Environmental Innovations option at Central Memorial. He was blown away by the amount of freedom the course offered in exploring environmental issues. During this time, Lucas also learned of the lack of comprehensive environmental programs in other schools across the province, which led him to join the Canadian Rockies Youth Network.
Growing up in a family that always encouraged a love of the outdoors helped Lucas to understand the importance of environmental stewardship. Lucas has always felt at home in the Canadian Rockies whilst engaging in a variety of activities including Hiking, Skiing, Backpacking, Canoeing, and more.
Lucas works part-time as a ski instructor at Mt. Norquay and is also working on creating wildlife awareness messages with the Biosphere Institute’s Wildsmart Campaign. He is hoping to work in Environmental Science in the future.
Instructor: Grades 10-12, Central Memorial High School
Grade: Teacher: Grades 10-12
Hobbies: Canoeing, backcountry hiking, climbing, chasing tornadoes.
Specialty: Environmental Education and climate action projects
Fun Fact: Loves fun facts!