Youth brings Positive Energy, Enthusiasm to Green Jobs Role

Canadian Parks & Recreation Association
/April 18, 2024

When Connor Flaherty was a child, he loved being outside – particularly when he would visit his grandparents’ house and explore the home’s surrounding trails. Those early memories inspired him to give back to the environment as he got older. As a high school student, Flaherty joined Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador’s Green Team program where he and other youth helped communities fulfill their local sustainability and conservation goals. “I really enjoyed being part of the Green Team, and I wanted to have that experience again,” he explains. That’s why when he heard that the organization was hiring a watershed restoration steward for the summer of 2023, he wanted to apply.

Flaherty was hired for the role and was given this opportunity thanks to funding from the CPRA Green Jobs Initiative, which is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Skills Strategy program. Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing youth with training and employment in environmental and cultural heritage conservation. It also works with communities and partners to enhance, restore, and sustainably develop the province’s natural and cultural resources. As a watershed restoration steward, Flaherty worked on the Waterford River in the City of Mount Pearl where he logged bank conditions and water conditions – sometimes in inaccessible areas. “If we had to go into a less accessible part of the river, I had to wear waders and actually walk in the water. I really enjoyed that,” Flaherty recalls. He adds that the job taught him how to care for nature, and how to determine whether waterways, like rivers, are healthy.

Shelby Beals, Programs Coordinator for Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador, worked with Flaherty and supervised him on the Green Team. Beals says Flaherty brought great enthusiasm to the role, which was refreshing to see. “Connor lights up a room. His enthusiasm is unlike any other person that I’ve ever worked with,” she says. “It can be hard out there in the Newfoundland weather – logging information in the rivers, doing surveys, and helping to create management plans – and you can definitely fall into a slump when the work is challenging! Connor always brought that positivity and enthusiasm for being outside, and for the work overall.”

She says the organization was grateful for the funding support because it allowed them to continue to carry out their important work, while also giving youth like Flaherty valuable experience. “These kinds of opportunities create such an impact,” Beals says. “It’s important to be able to connect youth to these experiences, and they can weave it into their story for whatever they’re doing next.” Flaherty, who is studying software development at the College of the North Atlantic, says the job experience encouraged him to use his diploma to work in conservation – particularly developing databases that track ecosystems. He adds that the role gave him valuable skills that he can use in any work environment. “This job meant that people trusted me. I learned how to be part of a team, and how to be a leader and take responsibility,” Flaherty says.

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