6 Reasons To Be Optimistic

James Dean. Elvis Presley. Mae West. Alexander the Great. Joan of Arc. King Tut. Saint Mark. Mozart. Malala Yousafzai. John D Rockefeller. Crowfoot. Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg. Antoine Gendron. Sofia Castillo. Matthew Hammer. Taylor Straga. Paris Ellis. Debo Adeneye.

All of the people listed above made great contributions to society in their youth (Mark was only 10 when he began to write the Gospel), and, each generation, there were the oldies in the background, claiming it had all gone to hell in a handbasket. We hear a lot of the same mutterings today. You've heard it, too: millennials are self-centred; the youth of today are a disaster: all students do these days is social media ... and the conclusion: There is no hope for a better tomorrow.

What's that you say? You recognize all of those names but not the last six? Let me introduce you to some students - millennials - who are making a difference right here, right now. You don't need to be a world legend to make a critical impact. 

Sometime in November, we were invited to give a talk at the university of Lethbridge by Professor Shelly Wismath, who teaches a class on  Global Citizenship - a new Arts & Science program. After the presentation ("What does the OWC do and how can people get involved" ), several students collected at my podium and expressed interest in volunteering. It was before Christmas, and so, I  was pretty sure their enthusiasm wouldn't make it to the next week, never mind the next couple of months.

Wrong. 

We were was contacted by the group early in January. We asked them to each write us a short letter. (The group has given us permission to share them with you - We've left out their contact details,) This is what we received: :

Name: Antoine G.
Aspired Major: General Science and Education. Potentially post-bachelor in sports management (I have a diploma in sports management from Prairie College).
My favorite thing on the Oldman Watershed Council web page is under the research and projects section. The publications to me are the most interesting things as they are studies that show the benefit of doing certain things and have found some solutions. I also find it interesting because it is research that was done to share information with people.
The ideal thing to do at this point in time is a one or two time thing over the weekend working outside and doing something things with my hands. A full day or two would be ideal over the weekend.
I’m doing this for a few reasons. One, I like to find solutions and to volunteer. Second, I am all for sustainability and protecting within reasonable fashion the earth that we live on. Third, our group chose to look into to this for our global citizenship cohort.
Name: Paris E.
Aspiring Major: Neuroscience, I really want to work on the brain and how the brain impacts so much of our everyday life.
The most interesting thing on the Oldman Watershed website is how welcoming it is. I can learn everything I need to about the watershed without feeling lost. I am able to apply to be a volunteer and see all of the current projects that are going on to give me an idea of what I can be helping with. There is a lot of different features that I am able to look at, facts to read, and videos to watch. The website is truly just a great place to get lost in for bit, to look and learn.
I would love to work outside, with my hands, for one or two days. I want to do something that will make an impact on the environment. 
I am doing this because I care about the environment that everyone in Lethbridge lives in and around. I want to keep Lethbridge looking as beautiful as it is, for as long as we can, with the growing economy. 
Name: Matthew H.
Aspired Major: Biological Sciences
The most interesting thing on your website is the ease of access to information on what the council is currently working on and planning.
I wish to volunteer and provide my services wherever extra help is needed.
I want to volunteer for the Oldman Watershed Council because I believe it is in my best interests that the projects the council is working on succeed. The future of clean water and the well being of the environment depend on the work the council does, and I wish to be a part of making that happen.
Name: Debo A.
Aspired major: Neuroscience
I find the brain to be a very interesting concept to learn about. I believe there is still so much to discover about this unique organ in our body that contributes so much to who we are and how we function as human beings.
The most interesting thing I find on the website is the different projects that have been established in order to bring awareness to the program. It provides different angles on how to approach the topic of water, which attracts more attention to it. I feel that not only is this a great way to give people a better insight on what the program entails, but it will also motivate people to create their own projects with the same focus in mind. 
I want to volunteer in an environment that provides me with hands on experience about how water is obtained and purified, basically to learn about the entire process as to how residences of Lethbridge are able to access water right from their faucets.
I want to participate in this because water is a very essential component in the world we live in today. All of the activities that we partake in, in a day to day basics involves the use of water whether directly or indirectly. Most often than none, water is taken for granted and I would love to learn about different ways it can be better sustained not only for our generation but for future generations to come.  

Name: Taylor Straga
Aspiring Major: Agricultural Biotechnology, however starting in the fall I have switched to the Neuroscience major. With my major I would like to further my education by going to optometry school.  
Even though I am switching my major out of Agricultural Biotechnology, which places an importance on environmental issues to Neuroscience, I still am very interested in environmentalism and conservation. The environment is a critical aspect to everyone’s lives and once it starts to disappear, we cannot easily get it back. With my cohort group, I would like to volunteer with the Oldman Watershed Council as a one or two-time thing to better understand the impact that the watershed has on us. I would like to do more hands-on volunteering at preferably a water treatment facility or even out in the environment so I can see first hand, where our water comes from, how it is used and the various pollutants in it. 
Initially I was drawn to volunteering for the Oldman Watershed Council after we had a presenter from the council come talk to us in our Cohort seminar. After looking at the website, I have been able to see all the interesting projects that the Oldman Watershed Council takes part in. The volunteer opportunities are easy to find an look at on the site and I would be happy to take part in one of these projects. 

Name: Sofia C.
Aspiring Major: Currently I am majoring in Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, but I have decided to transfer into Environmental Science at the University of Calgary for September.
My favorite part about the website is the symbol for the Watershed Council. I feel as though it incorporates every aspect of the Watershed into one concise and beautiful symbol. It shows where the water starts and who the water impacts, which to me is exactly the questions that need to be asked when dealing with water.
I’m looking to volunteer with my group in a one-time event that is outside and is hands on. Anything to do with the water treatment facility or analyzing impacts on the environment would be ideal!
I want to do this because I love the environment and I want to see the different aspects on dealing with environmental impacts. Considering my change in major I also want to gain some sort of experience in the Environment area of the job force section in Alberta.

The OWC met with the Global Citizenship for the Oldman Watershed Council cohort (that's their name - they've even got a Facebook page you can follow!) on Groundhog Day - they didn't see their own shadows and disappear. We charted out their path forward as participants in the Southern Alberta Water Charter 2017 (#SAWC17). They will be an inspiration to other groups, organizations and communities who are also ready to dig in and make a change. I was honoured to meet them.

They will be attending the signing event at Lethbridge City Hall on April 7th at noon, along with Mayors, Reeves, CEOs and other community leaders who are the early adopters of #SAWC17. We look forward to hearing about everyone's plans for this summer - there are some fantastic initiatives taking place. Please join us :-)

Working with our community leaders and volunteers (rarely mutually exclusive categories) gives me great hope. We have many volunteers who have worked alongside us for decades and who remain tireless in their commitment to a better future - and a better NOW.

Thank you to all OWC volunteers - past, present and future.
You're what keeps us going and you provide the wind beneath our wings.

For more about our volunteers, please see: https://oldmanwatershed-council.squarespace.com/volunteering/ and join us on the first Tuesday of every month for #greendrinksyql for an informal couple of hours of networking, current events and fun :-)

The University of Lethbridge Global Citizenship for Oldman Watershed Group at OWC office (only Matthew not in the photo)

The University of Lethbridge Global Citizenship for Oldman Watershed Group at OWC office
(only Matthew not in the photo)