• Volunteering in Sustainability: How to Find Volunteer Opportunities to Complete your Living Planet Leader Certification

    By: Brenna Mervyn*

    About the Program 

    The WWF Living Planet Leader program (LPL) has provided an opportunity for students at Brock to complete a certificate in sustainability while completing their degree. LPL is a professionally recognized certification with four main pillars: volunteerism, sustainability in academics, personal sustainability, and leadership. Any student at Brock is eligible to complete this certification, regardless of program or faculty. The following post will be focused on the volunteerism pillar, and how Brock students can complete their 40 hours of volunteer work remotely or in the Niagara Region in relation to sustainability or conservation.  

    Why Volunteering is Important to Sustainability 

    Volunteering and community involvement are key factors in sustainability and conservation. Many organizations working in stewardship or conservation are underfunded. Therefore, volunteerism helps keep parks and events possible for everyone to enjoy. Conservation areas and provincial parks require volunteers to keep areas safe and clean for public use. Volunteers are also key to running community events. Community events aid immensely in spreading awareness of sustainability issues and how to create change in our everyday lives. Volunteerism is also a tool to foster a sense of pride and care for the community we live in. This also amplifies the drive to change the community for the better. Education is also a huge benefit of volunteerism. Many programs for children are volunteer-run, and therefore volunteers play a large role in educating the next generation on issues of sustainability.  

    Portals for Volunteer Opportunities 

    There are various job boards and volunteer sites that compile open volunteer opportunities. These portals are excellent tools when searching for volunteer positions. Keywords such as sustainability, conservation, environment, or climate change can help narrow down results and find a position that is right for you while filling the LPL requirements. Some useful sites are listed below.  

    Organizations and Opportunities 

    1. Organize a litter cleanup! 

    The Earth Day Great Global Cleanup is an excellent resource to register litter pickups globally. Their website outlines how to kickstart a cleanup whether it be a private or public event. Organizing a litter pickup is an excellent way to engage with the community while practicing environmental volunteerism and leadership. There is no minimum group size, so whether it be a group of 5 or a group of 50, organizing a litter pickup is a great way to get volunteer hours while enhancing local biodiversity.  

    2. Volunteering with Niagara Parks 

    Sustainable Niagara Falls | Niagara Falls Canada

    Niagara Parks works to preserve and educate the public on the natural and cultural heritage of the Niagara River Corridor. The Niagara River Corridor is a key to biodiversity in the Niagara Region and is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna for which Niagara is known for. The Niagara Parks Commission is responsible for the Niagara Glen Naturalization Site and the Dufferin Islands, which are huge tourist destinations (especially during bird migration seasons). Conserving these areas under high stress from tourism requires work from volunteers to manage the sites and educate the community and tourists of their importance. This means that Niagara Parks offers various opportunities to get involved through special events, tree planting, or site management. Their site has a list of many volunteer opportunities, and they even offer a volunteer appreciation program for continued participation!  

    3. Volunteer with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority 

    The NPCA is a resource management agency working on local watershed preservation and conservation. Volunteer opportunities can be found based in various fields. Whether you’re interested in working with children, site maintenance, conservation, or volunteering for special events, there are many opportunities to find the right fit for you. The NPCA is also running the Balls Falls Nature School beginning this September, which is an excellent opportunity to work with and educate children on conservation and sustainability.  

    4. Organize or participate in a BioBlitz! 

    Now, you may be asking, what on Earth is a BioBlitz? A BioBlitz is a community event which creates a biological survey of an environment to log anthropogenic impacts, population density, invasive species, and biodiversity composition. A BioBlitz encourages citizen scientists, community members, and students to participate using surveying apps such as iNaturalist to make identification quick, easy, and accurate.  Last month, Brock partnered with the Niagara Parks Commission to hold the Dufferin Islands BioBlitz which was a huge success. Not only are events like a BioBlitz fun and beneficial to research, but they also involve the community and are a great way to increase interest in issues such as invasive species. iNaturalist is a great resource to find and organize a BioBlitz, as well as Sustainability at Brock who organized the Dufferin Islands BioBlitz.  

    There are many opportunities throughout the Niagara Region for volunteering in sustainability or stewardship. What is most important is finding which opportunity is the right fit for you and your goals. When searching for volunteer positions it is useful to check recruitment sites often, so you don’t miss out on any opportunities. After completing your volunteer hours, don’t forget to upload proof of completion to your Living Planet Leader profile to fulfill the volunteerism requirement!  

    *This blog post was written as part of an assignment for ENSU 3P91: Leadership in Environmental Sustainability Internship Course. If you are interested in taking part in this course, please visit:  

    Categories: Community, Niagara, Outdoors, Student Contributor, Study Sustainability at Brock, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Brock University Seed Library community engagement events!

    Participants selected from a variety of seeds they wanted to plant.

    By: Sanjida Amin

    Brock University’s Seed Library celebrated its second season by hosting two events aimed at educating the community about sustainable gardening practices. The Seed Library, a partnership between the Brock University Library and the Brock University Project Charter, provides the Brock and Niagara community with free seeds to “borrow” and plant in the spring and summer. Staff, students, and community members can “borrow” free seeds from the Seed Library to use in their own gardens. The cycle works like a library where participants can take seeds free of cost and are asked to return some from their harvest, so they can be given out to other community members. This Seed Library aims to protect the genetic variety in our food system and encourage open access to seeds. 

    This spring, the Seed Library hosted a seed packing event and a seed planting event to spread awareness of the Seed Library project and educate the community on the importance of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, promoting pollinator populations, and preserving rare, endangered, native, and culturally significant seeds.    

    The Seed Packing Party was held on March 31 in the Matheson Learning Commons. Anyone who wanted to help pack seeds for the Seed Library’s stock was welcome to participate in the volunteer event, which was designed for students earning credits towards their campus-wide co-curriculum (CWC) activities. Moreover, students could also use these volunteer hours towards the completion of The World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Leader certification. It was wonderful to see students from various departments as well as staff, faculty, and community members participate in the seed packing event by counting seeds and placing them in envelopes. 

    Participants helped label envelopes and pack seeds to restock the Seed Library.

    The Seed Planting Party was held on April 13. The main purpose of this event was to inspire the Brock community to grow and take care of plants with seeds given to them from the Seed Library. Each participant was allowed to plant up to six different varieties of herbs, flowers, and vegetables. Soil and necessary supplies were offered, including egg cartons donated by Dining Services. Additionally, educational materials were provided, which included details on the germination process and growth patterns for some of the popular seeds offered at the Seed Library. Participants could take their newly planted seeds home with them to later plant out in their gardens. It was an enjoyable and relaxing event for everyone who participated, especially students looking to de-stress during exam season!  

    Participants used egg cartons donated by Dining Services to plant their seeds in.

    The Brock University Seed Library hopes to organize more events in the future to help preserve ecological balance, encourage home gardening, and enhance community involvement. To learn more about the Seed Library and how to participate, please visit our website here. 

    Categories: Community, Events, Student Contributor, Sustainability

  • Students show environmental stewardship at campus clean-up!

    Students helped volunteer by cleaning garbage from Quarry View area. Left to right: Alexandra Cotrufo, Sanjida Amin, Kassie Burns, and Janet Marley.

    By: Kassie Burns

    Last Tuesday, on April 11, Brock students helped clean up the area behind Quarry View Residence, as part of the first clean-up event on campus this year! Volunteer students demonstrated their commitment to environmental stewardship by collecting garbage and recycling around the area. Picking up waste makes a difference in our community and creates positive impacts for the environment by removing waste from streets, rivers, parks, and other public areas.  

    Once the students reached Quarry View, trash was evidently seen covering the ground. It was clear that some scattered items had been there for a while and had become buried in the dirt. Places most affected were along the fences and in corners where the wind had collected items.  

    Together, students were able to collect 2.5 bags of waste in just one hour! It was a beautiful and successful day, and we would like to thank Facilities Management for providing all the necessary supplies. We would also like to recognize the important work of FM staff in always keeping our campus clean. 

    Garbage and recycling collected during the clean-up.

    Janet Marley, a Child and Youth Studies student, commented on her experience participating in her first clean-up event. “It was my first time joining a clean-up walk and it felt productive. I am glad to partake in such a worthy cause. It was a plus that I got some exercise while at it. Thanks!” 

    We were delighted to see familiar faces and create new experiences for the students to engage in sustainable initiatives on campus! It was also wonderful to see other members of the community noticing our effort and giving thanks for our work in keeping the neighbouring trails clean. This event highlighted the positive differences that can be made when working together to take proactive action.  

    While some waste may have been intentionally littered, we also recognize that litter can also be due to unintentional circumstances, such as wind blowing items out of garbage bins. To help prevent garbage from being dispersed into the environment by the wind, it is important to tie bags tightly and ensure lids are properly secured on bins. Here are some of the most common items collected at the clean-up. 

    Common items found:  
    • Coffee cups and lids 
    • Masks 
    • Take out containers and bags 
    • Plastic cutlery  
    • Hygiene products 
    • Notes/paper 
    • Cardboard boxes 
    • Food wrappers 

    Thank you to everyone who participated in our Campus Clean-up, we look forward to hosting more clean-ups soon! If you are interested in participating in more Sustainability at Brock events, we are also hosting an Earth Day Sustainability Challenge and co-hosting a BioBlitz event this month!  

    Interested in hosting your own clean-up? Visit our toolkit created in partnership with Niagara College for more resources and steps! 

    This event helps support SDG 11, SDG 13, and SDG 15. 

    Categories: Community, Events, Outdoors, Student Contributor

  • Decreasing Single-use Plastics through the Living Planet Leader Certification

    Blog Contributor: Chyna-Rose Bennett

    Brock has partnered with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada for the Living Planet at Campus project. Students will be able to participate in conservation activities on campus, in their communities, and even globally because of this cooperation. The partnership gives students a certification showing their involvement in the community and academia through ways of volunteering, a personal application, academics, leadership, as well as teamwork. The idea behind the certification is that the actions each of us take towards sustainability is important and influences combating climate change (Brock University).

    The Personal Application

    One aspect of the certification is the personal application. This is used to show how an individual has contributed to sustainability by completing a self-guided checklist of solution-based actions. A brief reflection on the positive personal and environmental impact is included with each checklist item (Brock University).

    Decreasing Single-use Plastics

    A topic covered in a few of the actions in the checklist is conservation through the reusing of resources. These include bringing your own mug/coffee cup, using reusable containers for food, bringing reusable bags for grocery shopping, as well as refusing the use of plastic straws and cutlery when eating out. All these actions require an individual to bring these items with them, thus reducing the amount of waste they generate. These actions are important because it limits the amount of single-use plastic generated and thrown into landfills. It is a simple sustainable action that can be done at an individual level, but results in a large overall change. Every year, up to 15 billion plastic bags are used in Canada, and about 57 million straws are used every day (Environment Canada, 2021).

    So, remember if you are going grocery shopping, bring a reusable bag; if you are going to a coffee shop, bring a reusable cup/mug; and if you are eating out, bring a reusable straw and cutlery and remember to refuse any plastic items. These simple steps could have a large impact if everyone made this change.

    The change starts with you!


    Brock University. WWF-Canada Living Planet @ Campus partnership. Brock University. (n.d.). Retrieved February 2, 2022, from

    Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021, July 12). Canada one-step closer to zero plastic waste by 2030. Retrieved February 15, 2022, from

    Categories: Community, Student Contributor

  • Achieving WWF-Canada’s Living Planet Leader Certification

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    Brock and WWF-Canada launched their exciting partnership in September of 2020 to provide students with the opportunity to work towards WWF-Canada’s nationally recognized Living Planet Leader self-guided certification through local and global sustainability and conservation initiatives. As of April 2021, I’m excited to have completed all requirements to achieve the Certification, making me a certified WWF-Canada Living Planet Leader. The various categories that all leaders must complete include:

    • Campus, community, or global volunteerism
    • Personal application of sustainability
    • Academics
    • Leadership and teamwork

    To complete the campus, community, or global volunteerism category, I completed 40 hours of volunteer work for Sustainability at Brock and for my local community. Some of my actions included planning the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Training Day, creating helpful shareable content related to the SDGs and local solutions to their global goals, and creating a virtual clean-up toolkit webpage and resource for the Brock community to use during Earth Week and beyond. Completing these hours was extremely fulfilling and truly made me feel like I was making a real impact on local communities and the environment.

    In term of the personal application of sustainability category, WWF-Canada has a checklist with many items for individuals to complete in their everyday lives such as:

    • Bringing my own mug (pre-COVID!)
    • Use reusable containers for packed lunches
    • Use eco-friendly or natural cleaning products
    • Unplug appliances when not in use
    • Reduce food waste

    I was also able to add personal actions that I took such as taking more cold showers (highly recommend!), investing in sustainable companies, and even buying my favourite restaurant’s cookbook to reduce takeout waste while supporting their local business. In total, I completed 40 actions within the category and quickly realized how simple it can be to make small changes.

    Next, being a student in the Master of Sustainability program gave me many options for the application of sustainability in academics category which requires you to either take a course in sustainability or apply sustainability concepts to projects in other courses. For my submission, I shared my Climate Change Adaptation Plan that I developed for Niagara-on-the-Lake during a course taught by Dr. Jessica Blythe called Climate Adaptation and Transformation. The experience I had developing this Plan was shared with the climate coordinator of the municipality and I was able to talk about how the SSAS program provides its students with real-world projects that have a lasting impact on communities.

    Lastly, in terms of leadership and teamwork, I have been fortunate to work alongside Amanda Smits in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre who is an inspiring leader. Together, we have been able to grow the registration rate of the Living Planet @ Campus Program by over 40% since the partnership launched in September of 2020. I’ve had the opportunity to lead exciting virtual events about the certification and speak with many students about how they can register too. It’s been very rewarding to be part of this partnership and watch it grow as students are eager to participate in campus sustainability events – event from a distance!

    Completing this certificate has made me even more passionate about how local action can truly make a difference in our communities and for our planet. To register for the Living Planet @ Campus Program and become a Living Planet Leader, click here.

    Categories: Community, Student Contributor

  • Brock Students Clean Up Their Communities During Earth Week

    Blog Contributor: Elenore Breslow

    Cleaning up trash can be a lot more fun than it sounds as it provides an opportunity to spend time outdoors and engage in conservation activities to help your local community and its natural environment. Brock University and Niagara College hosted a Virtual Spring Clean-Up event from Saturday, April 17 to Sunday, April 25, 2021. Students and employees from both institutions came together (virtually) to clean up their communities and help make a positive impact.  

    Brock students and employees took part in the event from across the world from New Delhi, India to our backyard in the Niagara Region. We wanted to share some of the highlights of the event with you, so we asked participants to share their experiences.  

    Highlights from the Event  

    “The Virtual Niagara Spring Clean-Up gave me the opportunity to incorporate a more sustainable form of living into my daily schedule. I had a great time cleaning my local community park with my brother, knowing in our hearts we were making a positive environmental impact. Highly recommend it to brighten up your day.” said Shivangi Singh, a student in the Masters of Business Administration program.  

    Shivangi Singh cleaning up a local community park in New Delhi, India.

    Madeline Mantler, a Medical Sciences student, not only participated in the event but also included and taught their younger siblings, “I really enjoyed leading my household in a clean-up of Firemen’s Park in Niagara Falls for Earth Week at Brock. I found it especially rewarding getting to teach my younger siblings about sustainability during the event. I recommend others do a clean-up as well!”

    Madeline Mantler cleaning up Firemen’s Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

    Elaine Aldridge-Low, who works for Brock’s Centre for Canadian Studies told us, “I chose the Virgil Nature Path for my clean up.” Elaine also expressed how they came across quite a lot of garbage during their clean-up, which encouraged them to reach out to their local government, “… I reached out to a Town Councillor with the photos, and he brought it to the Town’s Environmental Committee for review. I am hopeful the area is returned to its natural state and the businesses are required to keep the area free of their debris.” 

    This experience goes to show that clean-up events not only provide an opportunity to care for your community, but also to advocate for environmental improvements from local authorities.  

    Photo provided by Elaine Aldridge-Low that shows some of the trash found at the Virgil Nature Path located in the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

    Gargi Daga, a student in the Masters of Business Administration program, noted they had a great time at the clean-up event, “I had an amazing experience while participating in Virtual Niagara Clean Up event. I have learnt that our generation has the ability and the responsibility to make our ever-more connected world a more hopeful, stable and clean place.”  

    Gargi Daga cleaning up their local community in Ottawa, Ontario.

    Thank you to all our participants and we look forward to hosting another clean-up event in the fall. If you are looking to get involved sooner, we launched a toolkit with Niagara College that includes information and simple steps on how to host or join a community clean-up anytime, anywhere. Resources also direct participants to their local health guidelines to ensure all COVID-19 restrictions are followed throughout the process. 

    Follow Sustainability at Brock on social media to find out about other ways you can get involved in sustainability initiatives.  

    Categories: Community, Events, Sustainability at Brock

  • Brock Cares Event with WWF-Canada Showcases the Impact of Student Action

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

    On October 27th Brock Cares hosted an event called Conserving our Environment and Increasing Biodiversity Through Student Action” where viewers were joined by Kathy Nguyen, Specialist of Engagement at WWFCanada and Connor Thompson,  graduate of Brock’s Master of Sustainability program.  

    The presentation started with an overview of the current state of the environment and wildlife in Canada, which is unsurprisingly grim. Canada is currently warming at a rate 2x faster than the rest of the world, and that rate rises to 3x faster in Canada’s arctic. However, there were hopeful notes about Canada’s vast amount of untouched wildness and our duty to ensure it stays that way.  

    From there, Kathy and Connor launched into Brock’s exciting new partnership with WWF-Canada called the “Living Planet @ Campus Program”, where through volunteering and academics, students can earn the Living Planet Leader certification. This is a nationally recognized self-guided certification that includes 4 requirements to receive the certification: personal application of sustainability, volunteerism, application of sustainability in academics, and leadership and teamwork. 

    Brock graduate Connor Thompson was one of the first students to receive the Living Planet Leader certification in Canada. He explained that when he was entering the job force, he was looking for something that would differentiate himself from other candidates and that being a Living Planet Leader was extremely useful in doing so. He also talked about how completing the certification was an enriching experience that provided him with useful skills and experiences.  

    This certification is meant to enrich your overall academic experience and you have up to three months after graduation to complete it. If you want to learn more about WWF-Canada and how to get involved in the Living Planet @ Campus Program through the Living Planet Leader certification, click here.

    Categories: Community, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Brock and WWF-Canada Care About Conservation, Biodiversity, and Student Action

    Plastic Pollution In Ocean – Turtle Eat Plastic Bag – Environmental Problem

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper 

    On October 27th from 11-12:15pm EST, Sustainability at Brock and WWF-Canada will be hosting a Brock Cares event to engage students in conservation, biodiversity, and student actions that make a positive difference on the Brock campus and the environment. This event will highlight the new Living Planet @ Campus partnership between Brock and WWF-Canada that provides students with the opportunity to address issues relating to the crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.  

     The speakers for the event include Kathy Nguyen, Specialist of Engagement at World Wildlife Fund-Canada (WWF-Canada) and Connor Thompson, Brock Master of Sustainability graduate.  

     Kathy will explain how WWF-Canada engages in conservation, biodiversity, and habitat protection initiatives that align with the organization’s long-term vision of “creating a world where people and nature thrive”. Kathy will also discuss Living Planet @ Campus, which allows students to be leaders in conservation efforts on campus and earn WWF-Canada’s nationally recognized Living Planet Leader self-guided certification. 

     As one of the first people in Canada to receive WWF-Canada’s Living Planet Leader certificate and a recent Brock graduate, Connor will provide a unique student perspective on his experience completing the certification and how engaging in conservation activities impacted him. This will help other students further understand how they can get involved in conservation initiatives too through volunteerism, academic work, and leadership to name a few. 

     All students are welcome to the event to learn more about how they can make a positive environmental impact at Brock, in the community, and even globally. Click this ExperienceBU link to register for this great event!  

    Categories: Community, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Green thumbs needed to grow Brock Community Garden

    In addition to plants, the University is hopeful interest will grow in the Brock Community Garden.

    Brock’s grounds crew is busy tilling the soil, creating new grass aisles and enlarging the 12 garden plots located beside the entrance of the Zone 2 parking lot near Theal House.

    University staff, faculty and students looking to cultivate their green thumb are invited to use one of several free garden plots, assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Six plots are available, with six already claimed. The Rosalind Blauer Centre for Child Care will use two plots for experiential learning; Biological Sciences Professor Liette Vasseur’s research team will use three plots to test different cover crops — plants grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil; and Brock employee Alison Innes (MA ’13) plans to tend one plot for her personal vegetable garden.

    Before learning about the community plots last year, Innes, the social media co-ordinator for the Faculty of Humanities, considered herself a ‘gardener without a garden’ and often resorted to container gardening in her apartment complex.

    “It’s just wonderful to have space to grow things,” she said of the University’s communal greenspace. “It’s easy to stop by the plot at the end of the day and pick some fresh veggies to take home for supper.”

    Last year, Innes grew radishes, lettuce, carrots, chard, cucumber, zucchini, onions, beans and garlic. This year, she looks forward to adding potatoes and trying some heirloom varieties of vegetables such as purple beans. She also has an assortment of herbs and pollinator plants.

    Unfortunately, butterflies and bees aren’t the only animals the plants attract.

    “I joke that the deer and bunnies on campus are really well fed,” she said. “They got all my sunflowers and most of my beans last year. It takes a little creativity to discourage them from munching, but that’s the case wherever you garden.”

    Garden plots are expected to be ready for use after Tuesday, May 22. Water will be available near the garden as well as some tools for sharing. Pesticides are not permitted and annual and non-invasive plants are preferred.

    “I can’t wait to get started,” said Innes. “I find working in the garden really calming and meditative. I like to garden in the evening when it’s a bit cooler and will sometimes see wildlife and birds.”

    Innes encourages first-time gardeners to consider getting a plot.

    “Try it. It’s not as difficult as it might seem, although your garden will need regular care like weeding and watering,” she said. “There are lots of easy-to-grow vegetable like potatoes, beans or summer squash, and lots of great online resources on how to layout your garden. Growing plants from seeds keeps costs down, too.”

    Staff, faculty and students interested in claiming a garden plot are asked to contact Grounds Manager John Dick at

    Story originally published in The Brock News.

    Categories: Community, Outdoors, Sustainability