Youth and Ecological Restoration
Helping exceptional youth build healthy community relationships with both the human and natural worlds.
Through restoring local watersheds with community members,
youth gain a sense of worth, belonging and place.
YER provides youth aged twelve to eighteen with one-on-one work experience through ecological restoration methods, ecotherapy practices and mentoring support. Youth learn social, practical and communication skills to motivate them in becoming confident, respectful and productive members of our society.
Wendy Kotilla created YER in 2004 based on her own youth experiences of being constantly outdoors, surrounded by the healing powers of nature. She has a Restoration of Natural Systems Diploma from University of Victoria, and Negotiation and Mediation Certificates from the Justice Institute of BC. Her experience includes thirty years in Ecological Restoration and Restorative Justice. She received the UVic 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award for the YER program.
Photo taken by Viable Options Photography.
BUILDING HEALTHY COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS
Cooperation, Support and Compassion; Positive Role Models and Mentoring; Increased Community Capacity and Caring.
“This program helped me to be a citizen, helped me to work with the community. It was a good experience for me. I loved helping the community and it’s something I’ll never forget. I hope I can give the knowledge to other people.”
GAINING VALUED WORK EXPERIENCE
Data Collection Methods; Working with Tools; Worksite Safety; Job Variety; Good Work Ethics.
“Skills and experience I gained that I can add to my job resume are: teamwork, communication skills, knowing that I will do the best I can no matter how hard it is going to be and not giving up.”
IMPROVING ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE
Ecosystem Cycles and Interconnections; Identification Techniques for Plants, Animals and Fish; Understanding Environmental Impacts
“Trees depend on the fish and the fish depend on the trees. It’s all a circle, an ecosystem. Fish help the trees with nutrients, the trees grow big and it helps the fish because they give them shade and it keeps the water from heating up.”
INCREASING PERSONAL AND SOCIAL SKILLS
Meaningful Participation and Empowerment; Commitment, Respect and Responsibility; Patience and Endurance; Accomplishment, Self-confidence and Success
“I found this experience rewarding in the sense that I feel I have been helpful and gained confidence and also can do anything I set my mind to. I feel like a leader in my community.”
Public Speaking and Leadership; Active Listening and Engagement; Interpersonal Relationships.
“I think that it is something you feel good about because you are giving back to your community. The presentation gives you confidence because when a group of people respond in a positive way it gives you courage and confidence.”
LATEST NEWS & EVENTS AT YER
Oyster River Enhancement Society (ORES) has been a dedicated supporter of Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) since the program began in 2004. Youth #6 was the first to come and help ORES volunteers with restoring salmon stocks to the river. In 2005, Youth #20 said that “ORES is a birthplace that brings life to the world. It is a place for fish to mate and we can help them.”
The ecological inventory project was conducted in August 2021 in the Cumberland Community Forest Park through a partnership with the Cumberland Community Forest Society, Village of Cumberland and Youth and Ecological Restoration.
The ecological inventory project was completed in CVRD’s Goose Spit Park during 2021. The work was done by youth participants of the Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) Program , YER program leader (Wendy Kotilla), and a biologist.