News release

2003 Environmental Leadership Program

While most people are enjoying the holidays, many university students are already thinking about what they want to do when their courses end in April. For the adventurous types, working on environmental projects in the remote hill-top villages or dense jungles of Costa Rica may be the answer.

For the 11th consecutive year, the Environmental Leadership Program is giving young Nova Scotians an unforgettable opportunity to learn about a different culture while helping to protect the environment at home and abroad.

This year, six Nova Scotians between the ages of 20 and 24 will be selected to join other young people from Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick to travel to Costa Rica and work alongside locals on challenging environmental projects.

The young Canadians will live with local families from May to June 2003, and then return home with their Costa Rican counterparts to spend July and August working on environmental projects in their own communities.

Emily Harris, co-ordinator of the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps -- one of the program's main sponsoring agencies -- said that because the program does not pay wages, the experience is more about self-exploration and acquiring life skills.

"The program gives participants an opportunity to gain valuable local and international work experience, and develop transferable job skills," said Ms. Harris. "They also develop an appreciation of the international dimension of environmental work and learn the value of teamwork in solving problems and communicating across cultures."

The program does cover all living and travel expenses and an honorarium is paid out upon completion.

Past participant Mark Stewart, 20, of Antigonish, agrees that despite the modest financial pay-off, the program was well worth the valuable experience he gained.

"The four months I spent on the program last summer will stay with me forever," he said. "I will use these experiences and feed off of them for the rest of my life."

For Sacha Siddall, 23, a participant from Dartmouth, living in a foreign country was the most rewarding part of the job.

"This program gave me the opportunity to travel to another country, experience another culture, learn a new language and meet many caring and wonderful people," said Ms. Siddall. "It has changed my life."

The deadline for applications is Feb. 1, 2003. Applicants should be eager to learn about the environment, willing to work on a team, and have a desire to learn more about Costa Rica. A working knowledge of Spanish is not required.

"Most participants pick-up the language quickly," said Ms. Harris.

Established in 1993, the Environmental Leadership Program is a partnership between the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps, Canada World Youth, the Conservation Corps of Newfoundland and Labrador, the New Brunswick-Miramichi Community College and Taller Internacional de Servicios (TAIS). TAIS is a non-profit environmental and community-development organization based in San Jose, Costa Rica.

For more information on the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps, go to www.gov.ns.ca/enla/ess/ycc/ .

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The Environmental Leadership Program is currently accepting applications from young Nova Scotians interested in traveling to Costa Rica to help create a healthier environment.

From April 29th to September 1st, six Nova Scotians will participate in a cross-cultural exchange along with other young people from Atlantic Canada.

The group will travel to Costa Rica for two months to work on environmental projects. They will then return home with their Costa Rican counterparts to work on projects in their own communities.

The deadline for applications is February 1st, 2003. Applicants should have an eagerness to learn about the environment, the ability to work in groups and a desire to learn more about Costa Rica.

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Contact:

Robert Moffat
Environment and Labour 902-424-6427 E-mail:
kjd            December 23, 2002        11:05 A.M.