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About Us - The Team

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
Amazing
Program.

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!

The Team

Ava Vanderbeek 

Director 

Grade 11 Student

Central Memorial High School, Calgary 

Ava Vanderbeek is the first female youth and indigenous Director 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. She also plays a big role in planning future events with the network and hosting monthly meetings with students. As a kid 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 guiding and their 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 and 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, has received a certificate in Youth Leadership from Toastmasters International and is a 2 time recipient of a Community of Caring Award. She is a former attendee of the Youth Summit in November 2019.

In her spare time Ava enjoys horseback riding, water skiing, mountain biking, downhill skiing, but not cross county skiing, snowshoeing, and walking her dog McKinnely (named after the Mountain!) 

 

Thomas Moloney

Graphic Designer, Co-Treasurer 

Grade 12

Central Memorial High School, Calgary

I am Thomas Moloney, a grade 12 student at Memorial High School and CRYN’s funding and budget co-manager. I joined the network 1 year ago because it seemed like an interesting opportunity to learn more about environmental policy in Canada. I have always been interested in outdoor activities like mountain hiking and skiing. Lately, I have been getting more into whitewater kayaking and it has got me thinking about the effects we have on our watersheds. I am working on a letter-writing campaign asking the provincial government to increase electric car sales incentives and infrastructure. As I continue throughout this chapter of my life I hope to gain the skills and knowledge to be more environmentally considerate and make the world a better place for everyone.

Maya Carr

Social Media, Community Engagement 

Grade 11 

Henry Wise Wood High School

I’m Maya Carr. As a highschool student that cares about the environment, I decided to join the Canadian Rockies Youth Network. The network highlights what youth can do to advocate for the environment and offers trips and other experiences. I love to go skiing, tent-camping and hiking in the Canadian Rockies. It is a great way to disconnect from day-to-day life and reconnect with nature. I am currently working on creating an environmental club at my high school as my action project. I am the youth outreach coordinator which involves getting more youth to join the network! I am learning how to run our newly launched Environmental youth ambassador program (+ mentor bank) which sets youth up with the tools needed to start their own action project!

Skylar Boissonnault

Social Media, Communications Coordinator  

Hello! My name is Skylar Boissonnault! I’m 18 and just recently graduated from Morinville Community High School. I’m super excited to see where this new journey as the Social Media And Communications Coordinator will take me. I’ve grown up as a prairie girl in Northern AB, Morinville to be exact, but my favourite trips always involved the mountains. I’m a little bit of a goof but from that come the best stories. I love finding stories and telling them to whoever will listen. Art holds a special part of my heart. It gives you a way to express feelings and to put your all into something that others can enjoy. The environment has always been a huge interest of mine, and this opportunity that CRYN has given me a way to meet other youth with similar mindsets. It’s the idea of planting that seed and growing it to be passed along to future generations. I love the outdoors and hiking is by far my favourite activity. My Action Project is going to combine all my favorite things. Painting, Stories, and adventure!!!

Himanshu Sangale

Secretary 

Grade 11

Westmount Charter School, Calgary 

Hey! My name’s Himanshu. I’m a proud member of the CYRN, and I fulfil the secretary role. Currently, I’m in grade 11, and go to Westmount Charter School. From a very early age, I’ve found myself captivated by biology, ecology, environmental studies, watersheds, and more of the like. An average day of mine might consist of reading a book on riparian ecosystems, or spending a few hours volunteering in the field removing weeds, or possibly taking a walk in Fish Creek Park. Over the years, I’ve seen such interests evolve into the specific interest of conservation in an urban setting, and wellness in an outdoor setting, and I am grateful that such an interest has culminated into my involvement with CYRN. As someone who’s aware that they live in a world where climate and environmental proactivity are hard to come by, it has been my resolute focus to look at what EVERYONE can do in their EVERYDAY lives- and that is the inspiration for my Action Project, which is the development of a collectively established Code of Outdoor Ethics. I love any opportunity to spend time outdoors, whether it be with family or friends, and especially love a good hike or walk! In my spare time, I love running, reading or watching some quality TV shows. 

Mallory Kosterski

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. 

ALUMNI

Alexander Stratmoen

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.

Fun Facts:

  • Alexander’s favorite animal (albeit a scary one) is the Cougar. He has two much smaller cats at home and cougars always remind him of them. He also finds them to be an incredibly majestic animal and has always wanted the opportunity to see one in the wild (from a distance, ideally behind a window or with a telephoto lens).
  • Alexander’s favorite spot in the Canadian Rockies is Nipika Mountain Resort. This valley of rustic cabins has always been an amazing getaway for his family and is home to some of the best groomed XC-ski trails in the world! He is also known to frequent this spot with other families from his neighborhood, particularly Lucas Braun’s.

Ben Green

Ben Green

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.

  • Ben’s favorite animal of all time is the mountain goat. He loves their unique adaptability and ability to climb almost anything in the mountains! 
  • One of Ben’s favourite places in the Rockies is the Palisades centre in Jasper. He’s been to the Parks Canada centre various times with his class and friends, and it provides a beautiful backdrop to live in for a couple days.

Lucas Braun

ALUMNI

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.

Fun Facts:

  • Lucas’ favorite animal is The Boss, an infamous 600 lbs Grizzly Bear in the bow valley, who’s list of accomplishments include surviving getting hit by a train, eating several black bears, and fathering several children.
  • Lucas’ favorite spot in the Canadian Rockies is the Point Campground on Upper Kananaskis Lake. When it isn’t hailing that is. He has also ventured down the Kootenay River 3 times through its sandstone canyons, turquoise waters, and sizable rapids. He loves that every corner of the river yields something new and fun.

Teachers + Educators

Lauren Elliott

Instructor: Grades 10-12, Central Memorial High School

Adam Robb

Grade: Teacher: Grades 10-12

Hobbies: Canoeing, backcountry hiking, climbing, chasing tornadoes.

Specialty: Environmental Education and climate action projects

Fun Fact: Loves fun facts!