RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference

Make a difference. Do what you can!

Calgary - RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership CHALLENGE!

Calgary - RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference - 01   Calgary - RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference - 02   Calgary - RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference - 03   Calgary - RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference - 04
View Our Photo Album - Tues Nov 6th 2018

Edmonton - RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership CHALLENGE!

Edmonton - RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference - 01   Edmonton - RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference - 02   Edmonton - RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference - 03   Edmonton - RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference - 04
View Our Photo Album - Fri Nov 23rd 2018

Here's your chance!

Teachers, here's your chance for you and your students to attend a once-in-a-lifetime conference where your group will meet science professionals; get career advice; learn practical science; meet new and like-minded friends; and become challenged to make a difference! At the “RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference”, students will hear directly from inspirational science, environment and engineering practitioners who focus on water and rivers. The conference is all-expenses-paid with a catered lunch for graduates of our on-river science program this fall.  If water and climate science is an interest of yours, this is an outstanding opportunity you won't want to miss!


Minister Shannon Phillips  

Welcome to the RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference. Today promises to be a great day for all of you and a perfect follow-up to the RiverWatch Science Program. I hope you leave here with a better understanding of how climate change impacts our valuable water resources and what actions can be taken to mitigate these impacts.

Connecting with young Albertans who care about the environment is important to me. You are the future, and the care of our province will ultimately fall into your hands.

Young Albertans, such as yourselves, who are very clearly passionate about addressing climate change have an invaluable voice in shaping a sustainable future for Alberta. That’s why I recently launched the Youth Climate Action Council for Albertans aged 18 to 26. I hope this is something each of you will consider applying for in the future.

We have the opportunity to build a sustainable future for Alberta, and part of that work needs to be informed by young Albertans passionate about positive change. I hope you have a wonderful conference, and that your actions and passion continue to have positive impacts on our communities.

Minister Shannon Phillips
Alberta Environment and Parks

What's the BIG DEAL?

It's been said that water will be the first victim of climate change and this will have a powerful effect on almost every aspect of human life. Here’s what CBC News science commentator Bob McDonald had to say in “World leaders wade into water to fight climate change” Nov 18, 2016.

  • The big issues around climate change are mostly in the future.
  • But when the effects of a warming world do show up, we usually see images of water behaving in some destructive way. We see floods from more severe storms, glaciers are visibly retreating, ice caps disappearing. We see the effects of drought, with more frequent and intense forest fires, starvation from parched agricultural fields.
  • And the big benefit to focusing on water quality and quantity for everyone, is that we get immediate, tangible rewards. Not only will it fight disease, provide food and economic security for countries in need, we will by default be fighting climate change and therefore dealing with those future issues as well.
  • Issues around water have provided a realistic focus for moving forward on mitigating climate change and adapting to a warming planet.

How do you get involved?

Are you interested in following-up after your RiverWatch Field Study this fall? Would you and your students like to learn more about water, rivers, science and climate change?  Could your students use some advice on their career pathway?  Okay then, getting involved is as easy as One, Two, Three and Go!

  • Step One "Who should register?"

    If you’re a school who has already completed or booked into a RiverWatch Science-Afloat Program this Fall 2018, you’re invited to apply as one of up to sixty youth delegates to attend our first-ever, one-day climate leadership conference. 

    To be clear, this is a co-curricular event for Sci 8, 9, 10 or Bio 20 students who have already been out on the river for our field study this fall.  We're expecting perhaps 5-20 students from each of ten schools, including a teacher and/or parents joining their group. Ten groups will make a full-house!

    Teachers who have participated in RiverWatch School-Afloat are asked to share conference information and then consider providing time afterwards to help students act on what they've learned. 

    RiverWatch is able to support bus and substitute teacher costs where needed.

  • Step Two "Who will be there?"

    Groups from each participating school will come together at conferences held in Calgary or Edmonton. You’ll hear knowledgeable and inspiring speakers already making a climate difference in fields related to water and rivers, and you’ll be challenged to become a climate leader back at your school! Speakers will include:

    • Heather Wheeliker  

      Cal Kullman, B.Sc., U of A. “Paddling a river wearing climate change glasses.” Cal has been with RiverWatch right from the beginning in 1994 and has seen many changes to rivers over the decades. However, the biggest change he’s seen is viewing rivers from the fresh new perspective of climate change. For those who have already been afloat with RiverWatch Science, you’ll enjoy revisiting your river experience through an insightful photo journey revealed by climate change glasses.

    • Reed Froklage  

      Reed Froklage, Master’s in Environment and Sustainability, Western University. “How to help when it’s raining cats and dogs.” Reed discovered and reported Alberta’s first occurrence of an industrial plastics release subsequently spread by intense rain events, and during a two-weeks in Nov 2016, coordinated the daunting recovery of 500,000 plastic pellets contaminating shorelines along 10 km of Calgary’s Bow River.  Reed is a RiverWatch staff member and recipient of an Alberta Emerald Award 2018.

    • Elizabeth Gierl  

      Elizabeth Gierl, 4th Year Electrical Engineering Student, U of A. “The design build of Alberta’s first zero-carbon eco-race car.” Elizabeth is the Fuel Cell Co-Lead with the University of Alberta EcoCar team, specializing in the electrolysis of water and capture of hydrogen. She is also the Head Editor at the Green Medium, a youth run environmental blog, winning the 2017 Emerald Award in the Youth category, along with a $5000 grant which funded four months of research within the organization on the social, political and business side of environmentalism in Alberta. During her free time, Elizabeth likes to geek-out over electronics and pursue environmental projects.  

    • Noah Brace  

      Noah Brace, M.Sc. Engineering Candidate, U of A. “Engineering can make a climate difference”. Noah is a civil engineer from Newfoundland who is currently involved with water resources engineering. Noah believes that working with water will address the effects of climate change, and explains why it is important to follow a career path that not only interests you, but one that will also always be in demand.

    • Patrick Duke  

      Patrick Duke, M.Sc. Geography Candidate, U of C. “Youth are climate action leaders now”. Patrick was born and raised in Alberta and while in grad school started a climate outreach and action initiative called Students on Sustainability. His group educates grade school students on sustainability topics and mentors classrooms on taking climate action.

    • Students on Sustainability Climate Action Workshop  

      Students on Sustainability Climate Action. Post- secondary student mentors from Students on Sustainability will lead action planning sessions with students to help make their action projects a reality. Students will follow work plans to design what action they want to take, why, how and when they can make it happen.

    • Mike Christensen  

      Mike Christensen, M.Sc., University of Alberta. “Will climate changes impact our river and tap water?” Mike is the Watershed Specialist with EPCOR Water Services Inc. He has worked as an aquatic biologist for more than a dozen years and has sampled lakes and rivers across Canada and the North while always keeping a focus on his favorite waterway, Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River. At EPCOR, Mike focuses on protecting the upstream sources for Edmonton’s drinking water to ensure safe and abundant water supply. In his free time, he loves to take his canoe and his family for a paddle down the North Saskatchewan River, and when he becomes even more skilled, he eventually hopes to paddle upriver like the voyageurs once did.

    • Twyla Kowalczyk  

      Twyla Kowalczyk, P.Eng., M.Sc.What’s in the forecast for Calgary’s climate?” Twyla is a water resources engineer with the City of Calgary and is leading Calgary's climate adaptation for water. Twyla was highly involved in response efforts during the 2013 Calgary flood, and she remembers so many helicopters, sandbags and rock riprap. She was recently a member of the Expert Panel reporting to the Government of Canada on how to measure progress on climate adaptation.

    • Sandy Davis  

      Sandy Davis, P.Eng., Masters in Natural Resource Management and Community Development. “Keeping Calgary flood-prepared in a changing climate.” Sandy is on staff with the City of Calgary River Engineering Group, helping build flood resilience and preparation should there ever be a repeat of 2013 flood conditions. She’ll provide an overview of historical river flooding in Calgary, how her team created a flood plan, and explain examples of projects that reduce flood and climate risk in our city.

    • Heather Wheeliker  

      Heather Wheeliker, MBA (Community Economic Development)What’s in the forecast for Edmonton’s climate?” Heather is on the team leading development of Climate Resilient Edmonton: Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan. Once the strategy is approved, she will shift focus to helping schools and communities across Edmonton adapt to a changing climate. Heather’s career has been committed to creating an understanding of sustainability and the encouragement of citizen participation. She led engagement efforts for the City’s environmental strategy The Way We Green; developed citizen programs in support of energy transition; co-leads the City’s Environmental Advisory Committee; and oversees a Sustainability Scholars program delivered in partnership with the University of Alberta.

    • Elizabeth Otto  

      Elizabeth Otto, EIT Engineer-in-Training. “Keeping Edmonton flood-prepared in a changing climate”. Elizabeth is an EPCOR Water Resources Engineer specializing in stormwater risk and planning. With the expected increase in storm events causing flooding here and throughout the world, EPCOR has created a ranking system to determine the Edmonton areas most at risk from urban or river flooding. This method is part of a new approach at mitigating flooding, focusing on green infrastructure instead of traditional grey infrastructure.

  • RiverWatch Youth Climate Leadership Conference Agenda

    Fri Nov 23rd 2018
    EPCOR Gold Bar WWTP Centre of Excellence
    10955-50 St NW


  • Step Three "What comes afterwards?"

    At the conference, we’ll equip each school group with knowledge, materials and planning to make a difference beyond the conference.  That's how leadership starts!  Here's some of the information you'll need to know to become a climate leader:

    Keeping Calgary Flood-Prepared in a Changing Climate
    Climate Change in Calgary

  • Go! "You're now ready to register!" 

    Teachers, if you have student interest and administration support, you're now ready to register your group.  We look forward to having your school participate as RiverWatch travels “from the river bank to the board room!

    Click on a city below for video or the Eventbrite registration!

    Tues Nov 6th 2018
    City of Calgary Water Centre
    625-25 Ave SE
    9:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

    View Video

    Fri Nov 23rd 2018
    EPCOR Gold Bar WWTP Centre of Excellence
    10955-50 St NW
    9:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Supported by: Alberta Environment and Parks Climate Change Office, City of Calgary, City of Edmonton and EPCOR

RiverWatch is extremely proud to be this year's recipient of the "Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Award for Science Promotion", presented by the Honorable Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan.  And no one presents water science quite like RiverWatch, so we’ve gotten together with a few of our partners to create yet another amazing opportunity to challenge students.  Thank you, partners!