The Canadian Rockies Youth Network (CRYN) provides 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. We are a group of passionate youth, based in Alberta, working to promote youth engagement in the National Parks and environmental issues. We operate based on the following 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 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.
In 2019, CRYN was founded by Grade 12 student Ben Green. That year, the CRYN Committee designed and hosted the first annual Canadian Rockies Youth Summit (CRYS). We brought students from mountain communities across the Canadian Rockies to Jasper National Park to discuss conservation issues related to the future of the region. The result of the 2019 CRYS was a report outlining youth concerns for the region and goals for improvement.
In 2021, the CRYN Committee planned and hosted a second annual Canadian Rockies Youth Summit *virtually.* Many of the sessions can be found on our YouTube Channel. 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 LGBTQ2S+), 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.
Each year, CRYS is designed by youth and led by youth. However, it is made possible by the partnerships we’ve built 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, 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. We are grateful to all of our sponsors and partners.
Maya (she/her) was born and raised in Mohkinstis (Calgary) within Treaty 7 territory. Maya grew up camping, skiing, swimming and hiking in the Rockies, her favourite place to go is her cabin near Nakusp B.C. Her love for exploring the outdoors led her to take an Energy and Environmental Innovations course at the Career and Technology Centre in 2020. This class jump started her passion for environmental advocacy and since then she has founded the Environmental Club at her high school, led the Environmental Youth Ambassadors (EYA) program, attended Girls on Ice and Outward Bound backpacking trips, and has been a core member of the CRYN committee since 2021. This year, Maya is in grade 12 and now stepping into the role of Director. As the director, Maya leads the network in new projects and events as well as, providing opportunities and support for the rest of the CRYN Committee. Maya believes youth advocacy plays a vital role in the fight towards climate justice and that youth deserve a seat at the policy-making table. She is stoked on this year’s CRYN team and is ready to take on big projects!
Léa (she/they) was born in Tiohti:áke (Montreal) but moved to treaty 7 land in 2015 and has called Mohkinstis (Calgary) home ever since. Their favourite part about the outdoors is the calming energy and the fact that every time she resets and gets out of their comfort zone. Léa’s passion for environmental issues arose in grade six, when she first learned what composting was. Which lead down the rabbit hole of environmental issues. Although they’ve grown anxious about the current state of the world, she believes it’s better to act than do nothing at all. Léa has been inspired by many figures including but not limited to Greta Thunberg, Jane Goodall, Mary Oliver, and many others. Léa really enjoys reading, Star Wars, sitcoms, and the MCU. Léa is in grade 10 and is taking up the role of secretary and will help out with event planning. Which includes taking notes and keeping track of events. As well as taking on tasks needed in the event coordination department.
Sophia (She/Her) grew up in Mohkinstis (Calgary) in treaty seven territory. Sophia loves to spend her weekend out in the Rockies skiing, hiking, biking, or camping. It was these activities that spurred her love of the environment! One of her favorite places to visit is Waterton National Park because of its pristine views and unique hiking opportunities. Sophia first got introduced to environmental education in grade seven when she joined her school’s outdoor ED class. She later participated in the junior high outdoor Leadership club, and then entered the Energy and Environmental Innovation class offered at the Career and Technology Centre at Central Memorial High School. Now in grade eleven Sophia is excited to dive into her role as CRYN event coordinator, which incompases reaching out to other groups and companies to acquire different volunteer opportunities, planning transportation to and from events, and planning meals for the time we are away. She can not wait to spend her year with such a strong group of youth and make a difference in her community.
Grey (She / they / he) was born and raised within Mohkinstis (Calgary AB) treaty 7 territory. Growing up camping, hiking, and biking constantly especially within a small campsite in the Rockies. Their favourite place to go is Fish Creek provincial park AB. Eventually she found themself in Energy and Environmental Innovation at the CTC awakening a fervour for environmental activism. Grey is currently in grade 11 and is currently applying and writing grant requisitions, which will provide the majority of funding for the rest of the CRYN committee.
Kayla (she\her) was born and raised in Mohkinstis (Calgary) within Treaty 7 territory. Kayla grew up with Indigenous teachings, traditions, spirituality and medicines. She loves to connect and learn with all different kinds of people. Her passion with learning and collaborating with others lead her to public speaking inspirationally and educationally, through the connections she had made. Kayla was introduced to the Environmental Innovations class at the Careers and Technology Center of CBE in 2019, and has been a part of the program for over 3 years. Passionate to learn about Western science and Indigenous knowledge collaboration, she was motivated to be a part of Environmental action. She was introduced to the Environmental Club at her high school by the Director Maya who encouraged her to be a member of the C.R.Y.N committee. Kayla is now a returning 12 and has taken the role as the Outreach Coordinator, and will be speaking to other schools in person and virtually to connect and collaborate with other youth across Alberta to be a part of our 2023 Canadian Rockies Youth Summit. She is honoured to be a part of the committee, and can’t wait to inspire others to be a part of Environmental action!
Himanshu is a grade 12 student at Westmount Charter School. From a very early age he found myself captivated by biology, ecology, environmental studies, watersheds, and more of the like. An average day of his might consist of reading a book on riparian ecosystems, spending a few hours volunteering in the field removing weeds, or possibly taking a walk in Fish Creek Park. Over the years, he has seen such interests evolve into the specific interest of conservation in an urban setting, and wellness in an outdoor setting, and he is grateful that such an interest has culminated into his 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 his resolute focus to look at what EVERYONE can do in their EVERYDAY lives – and that is the inspiration for his Action Project, which is the development of a collectively established Code of Outdoor Ethics. He loves any opportunity to spend time outdoors, whether it be with family or friends, and he especially loves a good hike or walk! In his spare time, he loves running, reading or watching some quality TV shows.
Sierra (she/her) was born and raised in Mohkinstis (Calgary) within Treaty 7 territory. Sierra often went camping, hiking, travelling, and skiing in her childhood. She first got introduced to environmental work when she joined her school’s Environmental Club this year. Sierra’s favourite hobbies include reading, drawing, playing video games on her Nintendo Switch, learning about science, and collecting crystals. This year, Sierra is in 10th grade and has begun her role as part of the Creative Team. As a member of the Creative Team, Sierra will write frequent blog posts, go into detail about CRYN and its goals, and occasionally post art pieces relating to nature. Sierra is excited to work with the rest of the team and make an impact on the world!
The Howl Experience
The Howl Experience
Hobbies: Hiking, biking, camping, climbing, paint by numbers
Specialty: Community-level climate action and youth engagement
Fun Fact: Has a cat named Forest
The Howl Experience
Hobbies: Canoeing, backcountry hiking, climbing, chasing tornadoes.
Specialty: Environmental Education and climate action projects
Fun Fact: Loves fun facts
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.
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!!!
Graphic Designer, Co-Treasurer
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.
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!)