The Salish Sea Emerging Stewards Program

Photo by Alex Harris /
Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Through hands-on learning, participants link learning concepts directly to the places and experiences of the program as they immerse in local forests, beaches, and oceans to understand their local environment and its conservation challenges. 

Inspiring and empowering the next generation of conservation leaders

The Salish Sea Emerging Stewards (SSES) is an inspiring and transformative environmental youth leadership program connecting students hands-on to BC’s coastal environment and conservation issues through immersive and experiential land and boat-based learning.

Since 2016, Raincoast has been engaging youth in the Salish Sea through our inspiring Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program (SSES). The transformative environmental youth leadership program focuses on stewardship and conservation of British Columbia’s coastal wildlife and habitats. The program engages local students with immersive, place-based learning and leadership training throughout the year in the class, field, and at sea. The concept of “two-eyed seeing” or the braiding of strengths from Indigenous and Western Knowledge systems is central to our values and incorporated throughout the program. Local Knowledge Holders, Cultural Experts, and environmental scientists lend their expertise and provide a broad lens on learning about the natural world.

Immersive and engaging hands-on learning

Through immersive and engaging hands-on learning in the class, field, and water, students connect with the local coastal ecosystems, culture, and conservation challenges in the Salish Sea. Raincoast scientists and Indigenous knowledge holders guide the learning as students visit cultural sites, conduct citizen-science, and engage in hands-on activities that teach ecological concepts. Throughout the program, youth work as a team, problem-solve, develop critical thinking skills and are empowered to become stewards of the coast.

Achiever, our floating classroom

A series of class and field visits lead to the program’s highlight of a multi-day journey aboard Raincoast’s 66-foot Transport-Canada certified research sailing vessel, Achiever, to immerse in and learn about the Salish Sea. Participants engage all their senses as they explore the rich biodiversity of the coast and visit sites of ecological and cultural significance throughout the Gulf Islands. The boat-based learning provides opportunities for transformative and inspiring visits to British Columbia’s diverse habitats such as oceans, forests, and beaches, access to traditional territory, and encounters with iconic wildlife such as eagles, sea lions, porpoises, and killer whales.

Leadership training

The next progression of the Salish Sea program is the Junior leaders program, where program alumni are provided with an opportunity at a year-long, paid internship working with Raincoast and a host of community partners to continue developing their skills and experience. Raincoast works closely with participants to build their leadership skills by providing customized training, platforms for youth to share their voices, connection to mentors and highlighting relevant local work/volunteer opportunities. 

You can join us and support the Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program.

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