These in-their-own-words pieces are told to Patricia Lane and co-edited with input from the interviewee for the purpose of brevity.

Caio Krause Conradt is just 17, but he has already begun to empower the next generation.

This new Canadian from São Paulo, Brazil, is a 2023 Youth Climate Activism Award winner, hosted by the Institute for Sustainability Education and Action (I-SEA), for his work engaging students in high schools and at the elementary level.

Spring's first weeding session. Photo submitted

Tell us about your projects.

I started the Earthwise Environmental Club at Burnaby Mountain Secondary School, organizing a cleanup and a Himalayan blackberry pull, planting a bee garden and hosting a walk through our local creek to talk about the importance of salmon to the nitrogen and phosphorus cycle.

On Earth Day, we hosted opportunities for students to learn by interacting with the natural world in simple experiments, like measuring the increase in acidification before and after they blew carbon dioxide from their breath into a test tube filled with water.

With Simon Fraser University’s Bridging Environments program, I helped run a webinar about the Trans Mountain pipeline project built across the street from our school. I helped found Youth to Sea’s Schooling Fish program and led a walk through Stanley Park, introducing students from five Lower Mainland schools to its ecological and natural history and the importance of Indigenous ways of knowing how to protect its many different ecosystems.

As a volunteer with the Wildlife Rescue Association BC, I help care for birds in rehabilitation by preparing and cleaning enclosures and making meals for each bird. At the Vancouver Avian Research Centre, I help band birds and scribe data collected about migration patterns and the health of bird populations. I am proud to be contributing to data collection because it is very important in increasing scientific understanding and education about the changing climate.

Caio Krause Conradt is just 17, but he has already begun to empower the next generation. #YouthClimateAction

In high school, I was the youth committee head for the Sprouting Chefs Society, facilitating the garden club and cooking classes at Forest Grove Elementary. We made it possible for these children to sprout seeds in the fall term and harvest melons, potatoes, tomatoes and flowers by the end of their school year, often cooking their own plants. We hosted workshops on composting, building hoop houses, and making worm bins and seed bombs, which allowed me to explore themes like soil degradation and erosion with them. It was also rewarding to hear from their parents that their kids were educating them!

Caio Krause Conradt stands under the growth lights in a greenhouse full of tomatoes and cucumbers — and so much more. Photo submitted

Have you always been active in these ways?

In São Paulo in Grade 8, I participated in my school’s contribution to the COP24 youth #Decarbonize paper and helped clean up a heavily polluted water source in my hometown. Then we came to Canada and I got involved with Ocean Wise's "Youth to Sea" Leadership Program, which gave me communication skills and confidence in my leadership to pursue my burning desire for change.

How did the way you were raised influence you?

It was watching the adults in my family do the small things. My parents would never just walk past a piece of garbage. They would pick it up, thus teaching me we all have a responsibility to care for the environment. My grandpa would never kill an insect in his home but instead would gently usher it out telling me that insects are important and we must be protective of them.

Caio Krause Conradt stands by the first red cedar planted at their school. Photo submitted

What makes your work hard?

It can feel overwhelming sometimes. But I try to remember to focus on seeing the changes that are actually happening and to do the best I can with the next thing I am doing.

What worries you?

I really do not understand people who just do not care. A lack of awareness is one thing, but I am learning there are some people who know but just don’t think it affects them. There is so much to lose for each and every one of us.

What gives you hope?

The projects I started in high school are strong now and will continue. So many people stepped up. Young children are eager to engage. It is also gratifying that if people know me, they will sometimes ask for my opinion on how best to recycle something, for example. They do want to learn. Our individual efforts do add up.

Native coniferous trees were given to teachers and staff to plant in their neighbourhoods as a legacy from the graduating club's executive team. Photo submitted

What would you like to say to other young people who might not know how to begin?

What are you good at? What do you love to do? Find a way to offer those gifts. We need it all and it will be much better if we do what we love.

What about older readers?

Find out what the young people in your community care about. Show up to their events. Repost their social media messages. Make more of what we are saying.