The Starfish Canada: Uplifting the Next Generation of Environmental Changemakers

Ally Soriano
November 9, 2022

Today, more and more young people are leading robust social, political, and environmental changes. They bring valuable perspectives to the table that cannot be ignored - so it is important that we recognize the many ways youth are enacting meaningful change whenever we can. Nonprofit organizations like The Starfish Canada bring young voices to the forefront and celebrate their valuable contributions to the environmental movement across Canada. Their most highly anticipated program, Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25, is one youth environmentalists can look forward to each year - and has recently entered its nomination period. Tune in to learn more about this piece of #JustGoodNews! 

The Starfish Canada

Established in 2010, The Starfish Canada (The Starfish) is a nonprofit organization that empowers and celebrates young leaders in the environmental movement by creating a space and community for them to connect and inspire other youth to enact meaningful change. It facilitates a number of rich programs and workshops in communities across Canada, with impact areas including climate change, community & civic engagement, education & employment, environment & conservation, equity & inclusion, and poverty. More about the Starfish and its story can be found here.

Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25

The Starfish celebrates and values Canadian youth who are fiercely making a difference in the world. It does this meaningfully and excitingly through its Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 program, in which 25 youths are selected each year to be nationally recognized for the environmentally-focused work they do in their communities. Winners can also look forward to:

  • A number of job and mentorship opportunities
  • Funding opportunities for projects/initiatives
  • Invitations to paid speaking engagements through The Starfish’s Speakers Bureau program
  • Networking opportunities with a community of over 300 award-winning environmental leaders
  • Care packages with items provided by The Starfish’s partners and sponsors

Finalists are selected from a list of nominations. The deadline for submissions is approaching fast - youth have until November 10th, 2022 at 11:59 PM EST to nominate themselves and/or their peers. We hope our young readers take advantage of this amazing opportunity! 

The Impact of a Platform

A look into The Starfish’s “What are they up to now: The Top 25 Environmentalists” blog posts follow up on previous winners reveals the impact of youth-designated platforms. 

The Starfish recently caught up with Tesicca Truong 張慈櫻 Trương Từ Anh (she/her), a winner of the Top 25 two years in a row in 2013 and 2014. Since then, she has co-founded CityHive, a nonprofit that works to enhance civic engagement among youth. Tessica is also currently leading a project known as Urban Resilient Futures in her capacity as the Manager of Social Enterprise and Engagement Team at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue. This initiative involves working in collaboration with the City of Burnaby to accelerate climate action at the civic level. 

Tesicca Truong 張慈櫻 Trương Từ Anh, 2013 and 2014 finalist of The Starfish’s Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 program, courtesy of The Starfish.

Tessica empathizes with other youth who struggle to be taken seriously in environmental and climate justice movements. She expresses her gratitude to The Starfish for the community and platform it has afforded her and other youth:

If you look at the climate scientists, the political leaders, and the inaction and willful negligence that’s happening, it’s really discouraging. The Starfish has been a kind of beam of light that has helped me stay hopeful. There’s a whole network of us across the country, but also around the world, doing incredible work. […] Highlighting stories and celebrating successes are also super important because we don’t have enough of them.”

Another previous winner was also recently featured by The Starfish. Lucy Cullen (she/her) was a finalist in the Top 25 program in 2018. Just one year later, Lucy founded EarthPup, a sustainable dog-treat company that works to reduce food waste. A more recent initiative of hers will be focused on collaborating with the federal government to nationally mandate recycling and composting.

Lucy Cullen, 2018 finalist of The Starfish’s Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 program, courtesy of The Starfish.

Like Tessica, Lucy also understands how difficult in can be as a young person advocating for environmental justice. She shares how making the Top 25 list has been impactful in exciting ways:

[This designation] really brought legitimacy to the work I was doing. At one point, a very big reality show in the U.S. even reached out to me asking if I would participate in the show as an environmentalist. They reached out to me because of the recognition I had received from The Starfish.

The labour of young people in the fight for meaningful change can often be overlooked, invalidated, or tokenized. But when we choose to celebrate and value youth and the important work they do in their communities and beyond, we empower them to see the potential in themselves.

Show Some Love

Here are a few ways you can show some love for this piece of #JustGoodNews!

Nominate Yourself or Your Peers!

Nominations are open until November 10, 2022 at 11:59 PM EST. MeaningfulWork encourages all youth aged 25 and under doing environmentally-focused work to apply. Click here to submit a nomination.

Join The Starfish

Joining The Starfish family is a great way to show some love. The Starfish offers both paid and unpaid positions - click here to see what opportunities are currently available!

Share #JustGoodNews

Tell your friends or family about this story and/or share the link on your social media channels! Be sure to tag MeaningfulWork and The Starfish and include the hashtag #JustGoodNews.