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Ontario Envirothon Profile Alumni Profile: Emily Febrey

Posted: November 14, 2019

The Ontario Envirothon program helps to prepare students for post-secondary education and careers in the environmental sciences, and refines their interpersonal and teamwork skills. More than that, though, it touches the lives of its participants—fueling a passion for the environment and sparking friendships.

In this series, a number of Envirothon alumni will be profiled to give potential participants a window into the program and its benefits.

Emily Febrey was an Envirothon competitor in 2012 and 2013, representing East Elgin Secondary School in Aylmer. She continues to support the program today as an oral presenter and presentation judge.


Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Sure! My name is Emily Febrey, I am 25-years-old and grew up in Belmont, Ontario. I went to Dalhousie University in Halifax where I completed a Bachelor of Science doing a double major in Environmental Science and Environment, Society & Sustainability. I currently work for Catfish Creek Conservation Authority as an Outdoor Education Technician; my job primarily involves developing and delivering recreation and educational programming, but I also do grant writing, general communications work, and social media.

How did you become interested in the environment?
I’ve been interested in the environment since I can remember – I’ve loved being outdoors from a young age and quickly developed an interest in protecting our natural resources. When I was younger, I participated in community garbage clean ups, was involved in helping my school adopt environmental initiatives like banning plastic water bottles, and joined my high school’s environmental club… Actually, I was the president!
I guess I’ve always been on a path towards conservation and education. I especially love curating an appreciation of nature in others. I really love being able to teach people new and interesting things about the environment and hearing them say, “Wow, I didn’t know that!”

And how did you get involved with Envirothon?
I competed in Envirothon for two years. The first time I got involved through my high school’s environmental club. The teacher supervising the club brought up Envirothon, and it sounded like a really good idea to my four close friends and I who made up the club. We made it to the provincial competition that year at the Onondaga Tim Hortons camp. We had a lot of fun.
The second year I participated through an environmental leadership class I was taking. The teacher handpicked individuals to form the team. It was all online that year.

Emily’s first Envirothon team. (R-L: Sarah Bennett, Tess Ward (lying down), Emily Febrey, Chelsea Crawford, Cassandra Young)

How was the online experience of Envirothon compared to in person?
It was hard, and it was a completely different experience. It was still good, though! It’s actually pretty neat because I know other teams competing today use the videos that my team created during our competition to help them practice.
Attending the Tim Hortons camp for my first Envirothon experience was really great, and our team did really well considering it was our first year! However, my team for the online competition gelled really well and we adapted to the online component quite well. We wore matching sweaters for our video presentation and all truly believed in the solution we were talking about, and we were more knowledgeable as some of us were from the previous year’s team. Our filming went so well and we came in second place – we were all really proud of our work.

Are there any skills that you learned through Envirothon that you currently use?
Public speaking! This experience was a lot of help going into university, especially as I was going into a field similar to the topics discussed in Envirothon – it really helped me get the lingo down. At my current job I often public speak and interact with people I don’t know very well, and Envirothon helped give me the communication skills needed and ability to speak confidently. The field days from Envirothon also allowed me to gain hands-on experience and meet knowledgeable people in the sector. Additionally, Envirothon made me passionate about all the things I could do in the future.

What do you think students gain from participating in Envirothon?
Hands-on experience. Listening to and interacting with experts opened my eyes to the many different paths I could follow career-wise, or even in terms of hobbies and passions. It also fostered an appreciation for nature in a different way than I already had.
Ultimately, Envirothon showed me and my classmates that working in the environmental field is fun and exciting and involves new things every day.

Do you think Envirothon is a valuable program? Why?
Yes. I am now seven years out of high school and I still participate in Envirothon, and enjoy doing so. I met people in university in Nova Scotia that had also done Envirothon before – it’s a great way to form lifelong memories and friendships. It clearly changed peoples’ career paths, as we began to see different ways to incorporate environmental practices into careers. It’s also a great way to be competitive!

All in all, did you enjoy your Envirothon experience?
Yes, I did! And my actual Envirothon experience didn’t stop when I graduated high school. Last spring I was an oral presenter for the South West Ontario regional competition; I spoke about my own personal environmental journey as well as footprints and environmental impacts. It went really well, I think partially because I was speaking to students as someone not much older than them and with a similar perspective. I was the first alumni to be a presenter for the region. Catfish Creek Conservation Authority also hosts the South West Ontario regional competition, and I helped judge oral presentations last year. I really enjoy how I can still participate in Envirothon and witness students’ creating their own Envirothon experiences.

 

The Envirothon program is an environmentally-themed academic competition for high school students, held across Canada and the United States on regional, provincial, and bi-national levels. The first-place team from the provincial and state Envirothon Championships go on to compete in the NCF-Envirothon. In total, more than 500,000 students across North America participate in Envirothon competitions annually. For more information visit the Envirothon page of our website.