As the poet Robert Frost once said: “I’m not a teacher but an awakener.”
Teachers do more than just teach subjects like math, English, or geography. They also inspire their students to think outside of the classroom and become active and engaged members of their communities.

Through the Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) Canada program, Environmental Defence works with teachers to help create the next generation of environmental leaders.  YRE Canada is a national environmental education program that gives youth (ages 11-18) the opportunity to be part of the solution by producing creative and engaging environmental journalism. Teachers across the country have integrated the YRE program into their classroom and inspired students to take action locally for a global movement.

Meet three teachers that are involved with YRE in Canada and use the program as an educational tool in their classrooms:

Josh Shultz Headhsot

Josh Shultz is a teacher at Bill Crothers Secondary School in Markham, Ontario where Becca Williams, a YRE participant, won 1st place nationally and internationally in 2012. As part of his Communications Technology course, students are asked to create an environmental public service announcement or documentary. After Becca’s success in the YRE program, Josh decided to incorporate the program into his classroom to expose students to the many issues going on in their community.

[Students] have learned to dissect messages they see in the media, opened their eyes to the various issues plaguing our environment today, and gained the confidence as journalists and artists to create media that helps educate others, which leads to positive change.


Lisa Tatum headshot

Lisa Tatum sees the YRE program as “authentic learning” and incorporates it into her intermediate science classes at Don Valley Middle School in Toronto. “The YRE program appeals to many different learning styles as students have a choice of presenting their work in one of three ways – photos, videos or written articles.  The structure has built-in differentiation, creating multiple entry points for students that allow them to decide how they can best make use of their strengths to participate in the challenge,” says Lisa.


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Michael Iachetta wanted to create opportunities for students to get more involved in the community and came across the YRE Canada program. The program is offered as an extracurricular activity led by the eco-club from Seaquam Secondary School in Delta, BC. YRE is also incorporated in Michael’s social studies courses. He found that the YRE program “was the perfect way to blend theory and action” and “empower youth to have awareness and take action”.  His students have emphasized that “many teachers are failing to make big picture connections between their lessons and their surrounding community” and advocated for similar programs be created for students.

The YRE Canada program is open to elementary and high schools across the country. And there’s no cost for schools to participate. If you are a teacher and are interested in learning more, contact or download our Classroom Guide for tips on how to incorporate the program into your classroom!