This fall semester, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has launched a new student engagement program to draw attention to the declining population of animal species in Canada.
The new program, called Living Planet @ Campus, features resources for students to take action to promote sustainability. The program was created in response to the release of the Living Planet Report Canada findings, which found 50 per cent of species studied in Canada are in decline.
“The WWF is a wildlife foundation which has a primary focus on the restoration and protection of nature,” WWF Director of Nature-Connected Communities, Sarah Winterton said in an interview with The Journal.
In Canada, Winterton said WWF’s main focus is preserving ocean resources, the Arctic, and freshwater ecosystems across the country.
“In Canada, we’re so lucky to still have these wildlife resources such as provincial and national parks,” Winterton said. “What we really need to do as a national community is to make sure that nature is healthy, and that we’re providing a habitat wherever we possibly can.”
Winterton said the WWF created the Living Planet @ Campus program to engage post-secondary students in wildlife preservation.
The program offers students different action initiatives they’re able to utilize to create a more sustainable future. It promotes several ‘actions’ available to students, including grant funding, ocean clean-up initiatives and electricity-saving challenges.
“The program is open to all students of all faculties, and serves as an outlet to those students so they can help nature thrive and create a more sustainable world,” Winterton said.
Building on pre-existing campus initiatives, Winterton described the program as a resource meant to help students gain a better understanding of sustainability and the preservation of wildlife and habitat—both on and off campus.
“Every post-secondary student is part of the changing world,” Winterton said. “This change is happening primarily through climate change, and it is an issue these students will be dealing with throughout their entire lives.”
The program includes a variety of online resources, such as the Smart Campus Challenge, which pushes students make an effort to reduce the environmental impacts of day to day technology.
Winterton said the project encourages students to take sustainable routes, like collecting recyclable waste, limiting energy use, and powering down their electronics more often.
In addition to promoting sustainable lifestyles on campus, Winterton said the WWF is encouraging students to share ideas about what can be done.
“On the website, we’ve given students the opportunity to submit their own idea of what sustainable initiatives would work well on their campus, as well as campuses across the country,” she said.
The organization includes an initiative where students are able to submit their own project idea for an opportunity to receive funding through the WWF.
“Ultimately the goal of this program is to help students engage in action which will directly benefit nature … and really help wildlife thrive in our communities,” Winterton said.
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