As we continue to celebrate our 30thanniversary at Environmental Defence, we wanted to recognize a few faces who help to get the word out and educate the public on important environmental matters.

Vanessa and Nicole Hausman are two university students who lead our amazing Outreach team on the front lines in Ontario. They are a great example of just how passionate and engaged today’s young people are.

1.  How long have you been with the Outreach team at Environmental Defence?  Can you give me a brief overview of what it is you do in your work?

We have been with the outreach team for three years now, having started with EDC in our first year of university. This role has allowed us to be involved in the various campaigns and issues – from the Toxins campaign, to climate change as well as the Ontario Greenbelt. As outreach staff members, we are the friendly faces you meet while visiting the EDC booths at farmers markets, special events, and university campuses.

2.  What first brought you to Environmental Defence?

As twins, people assume that we do everything together and share the same interests… in our case, they’re actually right. We both share a mutual interest in environmental education and awareness and find it very important to discuss current issues with our peers. We felt getting involved with EDC was a great way to start those conversations.

3. What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about?

As a part of the outreach team, we are constantly speaking with a variety of people and groups. It’s always encouraging/ motivating to hear positive feedback from the public. Whether it be one person or the whole family, but to hear the response, “Wow, I never knew this!What you’re doing is very important”. That’s when we feel that we’re really making a difference.

4. Can you each share one stand out moment, funny anecdote or perhaps an Ah ha!moment that you experienced while out on the front lines?

At the Paddle to Protect the Rouge event that we were attended, we had about 10 canoes that day as part of our group and we recall running into two boats on the river. They were two kayaks that belonged to a local couple in the area who were frequent visitors to the Rouge. After a quick conversation explaining to them what we were up to, it was this conversation that really tied our action to our goal. We were able to experience the effects of what our work does for local communities and how it can provide a sense of reassurance. This moment demonstrated the importance of local support.

5. When you think of the future of Canadas environmental status, what gives you a sense of hope?

We were both able to help with the Canada’s Next Green Journalist contest and actually visit many schools for presentations or award ceremonies. We were surrounded by enthusiastic, motivated, and creative students who were eager to contribute to a cleaner, healthier, more livable environment. The student participants range from primary school to high school, but the inspiration and initiative we have seen is synonymous throughout all ages.

Nicole and Vanessa are just two out of the dozens of amazing and dedicated staff that make up our Outreach team. Next time you see these friendly faces on the street or at your farmer’s market be sure to say hi and perhaps even throw them a high five -they deserve it.