CCI student recognized as top environmentalist
Morgan Ian Adams/Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin Collingwood Collegiate Grade 11 student Noa Bridson was recently selected by ecology blog Starfish as one of the ‘top 25’ environmentalists in Canada under the age of 25. The Peace Garden at the high school is one of the school’s environmental initiatives, and includes a composting project started by Earth Link.
COLLINGWOOD — Noa Bridson has probably packed more experience into her 17 years than most of us will do in a lifetime.
The Grade 11 student at Collingwood Collegiate has travelled around the world: with her parents when she was 10, volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand when she lived in Vietnam while she was 15.
She’s marvelled at the complexity and beauty of the world, but also had her eyes opened to how human influence can be devastating to the the environment.
“No matter where I went, I saw some form of environmental degradation,” said Bridson, selected by Starfish Canada, an ecology blog, as one of 25 top environmentalists in Canada under the age of 25. The ‘top 25 under 25’ will be recognized an event in Vancouver on May 14, though Bridson will not be in attendance.
“When I lived in Vietnam, we went on a trip to Borneo; we were snorkelling, and suddenly we would be under these currents of garbage flowing over us,” she said. “When I was climbing Kilimanjaro when I was 10, we could see the stakes where the glaciers had been beforehand.
“It has really broadened my vision on how humans have had an impact on the environment. It has helped me make the connection between my own actions and the world around me.”
When Bridson came home to the Collingwood area following her travels, she felt inspired to do something in her community. She became involved with Ontario Nature (formerly the Federation of Ontario Naturalists), and locally with the Environment Network, where she is on the board as youth director.
Environment Network program coordinator Kerri MacDonald says Bridson is an “amazing young woman and such an inspiration.”
“She’s a great example of a young person working in the community to make it a sustainable one,” said MacDonald. “The one thing we really like about her is her philosophy lines up perfectly with the philosophy of the Environment Network.”
At CCI, Bridson helped launch the school’s environmental club, Earth Link.
“When I got back to Canada I realized I had to do something, in some form,” she said. “I needed to create an outlet (at the school) for people to show their love of the environment, their passion for the environment.”
The Earth Link group tries to make the school sustainable through improved waste management, the creation of a composting garden, and recently conducted a campaign to raise awareness of how bees and other pollinators are being affected by neonicotinoids.
It also took part in last week’s Earth Day activities in Collingwood, cleaning up the Arboretum.
“We work within our own community and the school to bring awareness,” said Bridson.
Bridson is also on her way to the Canada-wide Science Fair in Windsor next week, after qualifying at the regional level with a project that examined the connection between chemicals in personal care products such as makeup and shampoo, and the effects they have on the human body.
She said she feels particularly inspired by her environmental science teachers at the high school.
“I have great teachers who are very passionate in showing the kids the world,” said Bridson.
Bridson calls her selection among the ‘top 25’ as a “huge honour.
“I am involved in a lot of environmental work in my community, but I also know how many other great people who are out there doing environmental work,” she said. “It’s really inspiring to see that there isn’t just 25 top environmentalists in Canada, but thousands of young Canadians who are working towards making Canada a more sustainable country and bringing that into their communities.
“But it is an honour being considered one of the top 25.”
Bridson is still mapping out her future, with plans to pursue her passion for the environment as a career through activism, politics, law, or environmental design.
“I just know I want to do something that revolves around the environment,” she said. “I just know that’s my passion and I want to spend my life preserving the environment.”