IMPACT! Youth Sustainability Leadership Program: A Success Story

In the late fall of 2008, The Natural Step Canada launched an initiative to train and develop young leaders and champions of sustainability. The project expanded in 2011 when we partnered with The Co-operators to deliver this training under the IMPACT! brand.

As a collective force in the movement towards sustainability, we have much to celebrate and be proud of including some incredible accolades and accomplishments from our IMPACT! Alumni:




participants in 29 events in 11 locations across Canada




Alumni featured in the Corporate Knights 30 under 30 in Sustainability




of Alumni that started or scaled an initiative with help from the IMPACT! program

Here are some of the voices of our participants:

"It was a life changing experience, it feels like nothing but excitement and determination has been pouring out of me." - Guelph, 2014

"I can't say enough how great IMPACT! is. It made me feel like there are so many people trying to do good things. The vibe was so positive, which is a nice change when the environment can be such a heavy topic" - London, 2015

"I’ve walked away from IMPACT! equipped and motivated to DO something rather than just having endless conversations about problems and dreams." - Vancouver 2016

A whopping 68% of alumni survey respondents report having started or scaled an initiative with help from the IMPACT! Program. This is a testament to the core value and success of our training, as well as the dedication of our mentors, collaborators, and delivery team.

After a decade of championing youth leadership in sustainability, the time has come to move on from the IMPACT! Youth Sustainability Leadership Program. Going forward, The Natural Step will prioritize our work to expand our highly acclaimed Energy Futures Lab and Circular Economy Lab, and The Co-operators will refocus its youth programming on a new partnership with Enactus Canada, aiming to improve mental health on Canadian university and college campuses.

As we step back from the delivery of IMPACT! we want to acknowledge some of the people whose contributions were key to making it such an exceptional program:

Erika Aruja, Kelly Baxter, Tamara Connell, Tom Ewart, Amanda Hachey, Saralyn Hodgkin, Gloria Kan, Casey Shore, Kara Stonehouse, Karen Stroebel, Julia Toth, Barbara Turley-McIntyre, Claudia van den Heuvel, and Jonathan Wade.

And especially, the exceptional program managers who, in turn, took on the primary responsibility for delivering the program on behalf of The Natural Step Canada: Josh Snider, Katrina Siks, and Anouk Bertner.

As IMPACT!’s first program manager, Anouk played a leading role in launching and shaping the program. Her commitment and passion resonated with the program's first participants. Following Anouk, Josh became the lead facilitator and driving force behind IMPACT! His enthusiasm and partnership building were instrumental in the development of the program.

Katrina added to this legacy of excellence, testing new models of delivery, and expanding the program to different parts of Canada. Her ability to connect with and motivate young people was attested to in one participant evaluation after another. The effort and vision of these three leaders was key to building an energized, nationally-acclaimed, sustainability community.

We also wish to acknowledge the Ontario Trillium Foundation, whose generous funding enabled significant expansion of IMPACT! in Ontario.

While the IMPACT! Program is coming to an end, The Natural Step Canada will still play a role in connecting Canadian youth to a sustainable future through other initiatives like the Energy Futures Lab and the Circular Economy Lab.

We look forward to helping IMPACT! alumni and all other sustainability leaders connect with industry leaders and innovators while advancing their knowledge and involvement in sustainability.

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