Shining a light on inspiring projects from youth

This year’s Student Innovation Challenge showcased some incredible conservation and education initiatives.

Raincoast’s mandate is to investigate, inform, and inspire, and our Education Program puts that mission into action by empowering youth to become the next generation of conservation leaders.

Coastal Insights, our educational webinar series for youth created in partnership with Take a Stand: Youth for Conservation, returned for a third season this winter with a focus on hope, equity, and advocacy. It featured many voices of researchers, advocates, and activists who are pushing past challenges to make a positive change, and was hosted by Arian Tomar and Mackai Sharp, two youths making an impact. 

As a way to celebrate the impact youth are making in their communities, Raincoast and Take a Stand organized another Student Innovation Challenge

The Student Innovation Challenge

Students from BC and Washington State participated in the challenge to showcase the conservation and education projects they have undertaken. Eighteen submissions from over 50 students were entered in the form of videos, posters, artwork, powerpoint presentations, and websites, and were judged by Arian Tomar, Mackai Sharp, and Nic Teichrob of Take a Stand, and Shauna Doll of Raincoast. The judges reviewed all submissions, and selected winners to receive some amazing prizes generously donated by local companies. 

Prize winners

The winner of the Grand Prize for 2022 was Lola of Seaview Elementary for her project Not Alone Neskantaga. Lola created a website to raise awareness about access to water in Indigenous communities, specifically of the Neskantaga First Nation’s water crisis. Said Arian Tomar, judge and Grand Prize Winner for 2021, the website “was an inspiration to all the judges and we hope that you continue to uplift unheard voices wherever they may be found”.

The Top Prize for Grades 3-7 went to Sylvia of Seaview Elementary for her in-depth poster project about the environmental impact of the clothing industry. This was a visually impactful and well researched project.

Poster board with images and text explaining the impact of the fashion industry.
Poster project about the environmental impact of the clothing industry.

The Top Prize for Grades 8-12 was awarded to Jonas, Oskar and Gustav of the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry for their project building nesting boxes for northern saw-whet owls, an at-risk species on Vancouver Island. 

The Creative Expression Award in the Grade 3-7 age group went to Jaden of Seaview Elementary for creating an impressive stop-motion animation video about ocean pollution. For Grades 8-12, the award went to the team from the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry called In Spore Taste for their Bob Dylan-inspired song and video, called Subterranean Mycelium Blues, about using fungi in construction to create more sustainable building materials and reduce emissions.

The Global Impact Award went to Raghvendra of Pearson College for his leadership project Paramarsh, which helps support students in India making a difference in society. The issues tackled by this project include gender inequality and educational inequity, and the intentis to develop the project more globally.

In addition to individual and small group projects, many classes also shared with us their work. The Best Cinematography Award went to the Grant Center for the Expressive Arts for their stunning video about the biodiversity of the Salish Sea and the threats it faces.

You can find more of this year’s submissions on the Take a Stand: Youth for Conservation website

Towards a brighter future

The future is looking bright for these young, inspiring students. We hope they continue to learn, create and make an impact in their communities. Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Take a Stand aim to help young aspiring stewards on their journey and encourage more youth to take action.

Last year’s winner, Arian Tomar, has continued to make an impact in his community. Since then, he not only hosted our season 3 of Coastal Insights, but he has also joined the Take a Stand team, contributed to the Salmon Stories docuseries, and is now working as an intern to document an experiential learning program taking place in BC with Where There Be Dragons. This Fall, Arian will be attending the University of Southern California in Los Angeles to study Film and Television Production. We are excited to see where the future takes him and other Student Innovation Challenge participants.

Organizers and sponsors

Coastal Insights Season 3 and the Student Innovation Challenge 2022 were created and coordinated by Allison Kermode, SFU Professor Emeritus and Director of Take a Stand, and Asta Mail and Pascale Campagna-Slater, Education Coordinators at Raincoast.

Raincoast and Take a Stand would like to thank our generous sponsors who donated incredible prizes. 

Keta Legacy foundation logo: preserve, inspire, education.

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.