Youth and Ecological Restoration

YER provides youth aged twelve to eighteen with one-on-one work experience through ecological restoration methods, ecotherapy practices and mentoring support.

BC Ministry of Children and Family Development has funded YER since 2004.

Through restoring local watersheds with community members,
youth gain a sense of worth, belonging and place.

The Program


YER I is a 20-hour program providing one-on-one work experience, training and support for youth aged twelve to eighteen who are experiencing challenges connecting with school, community and employment.

Youth work with community members to restore the environmental health of local watersheds. Worksite transportation, homemade lunch, work tools and wet weather gear are all supplied.

Ecological restoration activities include salmon enhancement, habitat restoration, watershed assessment and monitoring, and community environmental education. Youth gain employment experience, build personal confidence, and improve communication and life skills, while learning about local watersheds and ecosystems.

YER I can be used to fulfill school work experience programs and complete community service hours. On completion, each youth gives an oral presentation for a community group about their experience. Youth are awarded with a YER I certificate, sticker and crest; a letter of reference; and receive fifty dollars.

YER I – 459 youth from 2004 to 2023


YER II entry requirement is that youth have graduated from YER I, and they are genuinely motivated to build on skills gained in the original program. Two YER I graduates, the YER coordinator and an environmental professional all work together to further instill teamwork and cooperation practices.

The focus is on a specific environmental project for advanced learning about ecological information, research techniques, and collaboration and communication skills. Examples of YER II projects include: radio tracking summer chinook salmon in the Puntledge River; conducting salmon population estimates in Millard Creek rearing channel; mapping the Oyster River side channel; performing ecological inventories in Comox Valley Regional District parks; and establishing surface and groundwater monitoring stations in the headwaters of Millard Creek.

YERII completion involves two youth guiding a public tour of the project site. On conclusion the youth achieve a YER II personal photo certificate; YER hooded jacket; a letter of reference for their specific work project; and fifty dollars.

YER II – 65 youth from 2004 to 2023


YER III is more advanced with an increased teaching responsibility. The initial YER III project occurred in 2015 with Comox Valley Project Watershed Society to restore salt marsh grass ecosystems in the K’omoks Estuary.

One youth was trained in salt marsh grass ecosystems and restoration methods, and then helped teach planting techniques to four groups of one hundred and forty Royston Elementary School children.

On completion of YER III, the youth gave Project Watershed, Estuary Working Group a power point presentation about the employment experience. A higher payment of two hundred dollars; a personalized certificate and custom letter of reference are awarded on completion.

YER III – 1 youth in 2015

Program History

YER was originally funded in July 2004 through Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children. The guiding principles recognized that each community has unique characteristics, knowledge and experience to address prevention and early intervention for vulnerable youth. Criteria included providing integrated and collaborative services that support community capacity to build healthy relationships. YER is considered one of their most successful projects.

From April 2006 to the present time YERI has been funded by the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development. Many youth participants asked to repeat the program, so there was a need to develop an extension. In 2007 YER preliminary funding came from the Vancouver Foundation. YERII provides youth with an opportunity to build on the skills and experiences they gained in YERI.  YERIII places youth in mentoring positions where they teach and involve younger children with environmental work


Community Partnerships

YER continues to build community partnerships, creating a cornerstone for the program and its youth participants. These partnerships have been instrumental in developing a solid foundation of support for YER within the Comox Valley community, as well as building bridges, alliances and awareness between local groups and individuals. YER services have now benefited 164 community groups including youth referral agencies, environmental stewardship organizations, service clubs and School District #71 classes and students.

Youth work with community members to restore the health of local watersheds. Each youth works with about four environmental groups and are required to do an oral presentation about their YER experience on completion of the program. As community partnerships are created the number of alliances with YER from 2004 to 2021 has expanded to include 164 groups.*

*Click on the tab title to open and view.

Ten groups referred youth from July 2004 to March 2021:
  • BC Children’s Hospital 
  • Comox Valley Community Justice Centre 
  • Comox Valley Family Services Association 
  • Comox Valley School District #71: Cumberland Community; Glacier View; Lake Trail Middle; Isfeld Secondary; Nalata’atsi; Huband Park Elementary; Highland Secondary
  • Comox Valley Youth Resource Society
  • John Howard Society of North Island 
  • Ministry of Children and Family Development: (Probation Services; Mental Health; Parent Teen Mediation; Over Twelve; Foster Parents)
  • Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health 
  • Wachiay Friendship Centre, Raven Back Youth Group
  • Vancouver Island Health Authority
Thirty-one groups had youth conduct ecological restoration work from July 2004 to March 2021:
One hundred and twenty-three community groups had youth presentations from July 2004 to March 2021:
    • Airport Elementary School, Grade 1
    • Airport Elementary School, Grade 2/3
    • Airport Elementary School, Grade 6/7
    • Arden Park Elementary School, Kindergarten
    • Arden Park Elementary School, Grade 1
    • Aspen Park Elementary School, Grade 2
    • Aspen Park Elementary School, Grade 3
    • Aspen Park Elementary School, Grade 4/5
    • Aspen Park Elementary School, Grade 6/7
    • Berwick Retirement Society 
    • Brooklyn Elementary, Grade 5
    • Casa Loma Seniors Village 
    • City of Courtenay, Council meeting
    • Comox Rotary Club 
    • Comox Valley Aboriginal Head Start Program, Pre-School Group
    • Comox Valley Boys and Girls Club, Adventure Club
    • Comox Valley Boys and Girls Club, Voices Choices Group 
    • Comox Valley Community Justice Centre
    • Comox Valley Land Trust, Annual General Meeting
    • Comox Valley Land Trust, Board Meeting
    • Comox Valley Natural History Society 
    • Comox Valley Senior Peer Counselling
    • Comox Valley Project Watershed Society 
    • Comox Valley Regional District, Community Services Branch 
    • Comox Valley Watershed Assembly
    • Comox Valley Women’s Resource Society
    • Comox Valley Youth for Christ 
    • Comox Valley Youth Resource Society
    • Courtenay & District Fish & Game Protective Association 
    • Courtenay Elementary School, Kindergarden
    • Courtenay Elementary School, Grade 2/3
    • Courtenay Elementary School, Grade 3/4
    • Courtenay Elementary School, Grade 5/6
    • Cumberland Elementary School, Grade 5/6
    • Creekside Commons
    • Cumberland Community School, Counselor
    • Cumberland Community School, Grade 1/2
    • Cumberland Community School, Grade 4/5
    • Cumberland Community School, Grade 5/6
    • Cumberland Community School, Grade 6/7
    • Cumberland Community School, Grade 8
    • Cumberland Community School, Grade 9
    • Cumberland Junior School
    • Cumberland Lodge
    • Cumberland Rotary Club 
    • Cummings Home, Seniors Assisted Living Facility
    • Earth Day Festival
    • Euphoria Nature Preschool
    • Eureka Support Society and Clubhouse
    • Fanny Bay Enhancement Society 
    • Fanny Bay Old Age Pensioners, Seniors Craft Group
    • Glacier View Lodge Society 
    • Glacier View School, Bridgeway Program
    • Glacier View School, Independent Learning Program
    • Glacier View School, Key Program
    • Glacier View School, Senior Alternate Program
    • GP Vanier Senior Secondary School, Counseling Group
    • GP Vanier Senior Secondary School, Grade 8 English
    • GP Vanier Senior Secondary School, Grade 8 Science
    • GP Vanier Senior Secondary School, Grade 11, Social Sciences class
    • GP Vanier Secondary School, Little Friends Day Care
    • GP Vanier Secondary School, Grade 10, Social Justice class
    • Highland Secondary School, Counselor
    • Highland Secondary School, Grade 11
    • Island Early Education Centre, After School Group
    • John Howard Society, Staff Meeting 
    • Kidzone Daycare
    • Kinnikinnik Child Care Centre
    • Kiwanis Club of Courtenay 
    • Lake Trail Middle School, Grade 6/7
    • Lake Trail Middle School, Grade 8
    • Lake Trail Middle School, Grade 9
    • Lake Trail Middle School, Pride Program
    • Lake Trail Middle School, Humanities Program
    • Lake Trail Middle School, Youth and Family Support
    • Lewis Centre, Youth Program, Day Camp 
    • Lighthouse Early Learning Centre
    • Linc Youth Centre, Action Committee
    • Linc Youth Centre, Staff
    • Linc Youth Centre, Youth Council
    • Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School, Grade 11, Life Sciences
    • Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School, Life Skills Program
    • Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School, Counsellor
    • Merry Andrew Day Care
    • Miracle Beach Elementary School, Grade 1 
    • Millard Piercy Watershed Stewards
    • Ministry of Children and Family Development, Mental Health Team
    • Ministry of Children and Family Development, Over Twelve Team
    • Ministry of Children and Family Development, Probation Services
    • Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society, AGM 
    • Nala’atsi Alternate School
    • North Island College, Human Service Worker Program
    • North Island College, Human Services Articulation Conference
    • North Island Distance Education, Navigate – Grade 4
    • Oyster River Enhancement Society
    • Puddleduck Preschool
    • Pumpkin Patch Daycare
    • Puntledge Park Elementary School, Kindergarten
    • Puntledge Park Elementary School: Grade 2
    • Puntledge Park Elementary School, Grade 3
    • Puntledge Park Elementary School, Grade 4
    • Puntledge Park Elementary School, Grade 5/6
    • Queneesh Elementary School, Earth Day Celebration
    • Queneesh Elementary School, Kindergarten to Grade 4
    • Robb Road Elementary School, grade 4
    • Roseberry Pre-School
    • Rotary Club of the Comox Valley 
    • Royston Elementary School, Grade 7
    • St. Josephs Hospital, Adolescent Support Group
    • St. Josephs Hospital, Residential Care Facility
    • St. Josephs Hospital, Transitional Ward
    • Saltwater Waldorf School
    • Scouts Canada, First Comox Scout Troup
    • Scouts Canada, First Tsolum Cubs Group
    • Stevenson Place (Seniors Independent Living) 
    • Tsolum River Restoration Society 
    • Tiger Too Pre-School
    • Wachiay Friendship Centre, Bears Group
    • Wachiay Friendship Centre, Eagles Group
    • Wachiay Friendship Centre, Elders Lunch 
    • Wachiay Friendship Centre, Raven Back Youth Group 
    • Wee Care Early Childhood Centres, Royston Elementary 
    • Youth and Ecological Restoration Program, Annual Community Celebration