Youth Advisory Council - Jane Goodall

The Jane Goodall Institute of Canada’s Youth Advisory Council brings together youth leaders from across the country who are passionate about making a difference for animals, people and the environment.

Comprised of members aged 18 to 25, the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) helps shape the programmatic direction of the Roots & Shoots program in Canada, ensuring the perspectives of youth are at the core of our work. Focusing on initiatives centred around climate change and Indigenous perspectives, Council members work together to involve youth and amplify their voices from coast to coast.

The Youth Advisory Council provides young people with an opportunity to develop compassionate leadership skills while connecting with like-minded advocates. If you have an interest in these topics, joining the Youth Advisory Council may just be for you!


Join the Youth Advisory Council


Applications for the 2021 – 2022
Youth Advisory Council are closed.

What’s the impact? In 2020 the YAC:

• Lead 3 Part Political Series on climate justice and centering climate solutions on Indigenous ways of knowing
• Inspired a movement to get outdoors with What’s in My Backyard Webinars
• Shared actionable tips & tricks for Living a Sustainable year on Social Media
•  Developed a Reconciliation/ Decolonization Teachers Guide (In progress)
•  Contributed to the global JGI network by creating a Global Roots & Shoots Report

Role and Responsibilities of a YAC Member

• Promote Roots & Shoots and reach out to schools/communities
• Represent Roots & Shoots at public engagement events as appropriate
• Attend Roots & Shoots Board Committee on a rotational basis
• Review the annual A.P.E. Fund (Animals, People, Environment) proposals from across Canada
• Develop ideas for campaigns and resources related to climate action and Indigenous perspectives
• Attend online meetings (average once a month)
• Participate in training sessions organized by JGI Canada
• Amplify voices of Roots & Shoots youth through networking and engaging in other youth-related provincial and national platforms


Still have questions? Check out these FAQs



Meet the Youth Advisory Council

Asalah Youssef

Asalah Youssef was born in Cairo, Egypt and moved to Canada when she was one. She now gratefully resides on the unceded and traditional territory of Kwikwetlem and Katzie First Nations. She is a photographer, environmentalist and advocate for well-being. She approaches her work through an intersectional lens and is actively learning how to ensure her work is paired with reconciliation and understanding of traditional ecological knowledge. Creativity is her outlet, but also her catalyst for change as she uses her love of imagery and storytelling to educate and inspire action. Her photo work has been exhibited in several exhibitions, and she has been featured on various press outlets including The Globe and Mail, CTV News and The National Post. Asalah is pursuing the Bachelor of Environment & Sustainability and a Masters of Management at the University of British Columbia and is looking forward to pairing it with her work on the Youth Advisory Council with other passionate, creative and like-minded folks.

Chloë Chang

Chloë Chang is a passionate young advocate for wildlife, with a specific interest in ornithology (the study of birds), which has led her to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from the University of Guelph. Growing up in a farming community, Chloë brings a unique perspective to the council around wildlife and agriculture that was bolstered through her experience volunteering and working at a wildlife rehab centre. Chloe also began an Eco Team at her high school, which successfully mitigated many forms of waste. In her spare time, Chloë enjoys digital art with her iPad Pro (drawing & painting), playing music (guitar, piano & singing), horseback riding, vegan baking and birding at Point Pelee National Park!

Cogie Cogan

Cogie Cogan is a student at Western University, currently completing a business degree at the Ivey School of Business. Cogie is passionate about environmentally sustainable business methods and how entrepreneurship can be used for social change. In their first year of university, they founded a club at Western University called Western Environmental Business (WEB). WEB gives Western students the opportunity to learn about how the environment and business world can intersect. Cogie enjoys playing basketball and ultimate frisbee, taking photos, skateboarding, trying out new plant-based dishes and urban farming.

Hannah Anderson

Hannah Anderson grew up in the Northeast of the grain-growing region of Saskatchewan. She recently graduated from the University of Waterloo with a BSc. in Biology joint with a BKI Knowledge Integration, during which she spent her spare time in an Arctic fish ecology lab and co-founded the Journal of Integrative Research and Reflection (JIRR). She’s usually found outside – most often in the Boreal Forest – wearing hiking boots, snowshoes, or skis, and with some reading, a sketchbook, knitting, or identification books and a camera. She’s most excited about how knowledge and ignorance are created and shared in the natural sciences and is especially driven by the importance of epistemic justice in ecology. With the YAC, she looks forward to listening and learning from youth, with the goal of ensuring youth voices are heard as we look toward the future of decolonization and climate justice in Canada.

Jaya Scott

Jaya was born and raised in Victoria, BC, in unceded T’Sou-ke, Sc'ianew, Lək̓ʷəŋən, and W̱SÁNEĆ Territory. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Environmental Protection and Management at the University of Edinburgh and working towards a career in environmental law and justice. Jaya sees climate justice as the link between human rights and the natural environment. She is inspired by Jane Goodall’s message of hope and belief in the indomitable human spirit. Jaya is driven by her hope, her faith in humanity, and her love for nature to work towards climate justice. On the council, she looks forward to connecting with and empowering youth across the country who are shaping a better future for animals, people, and the environment.

Keerat Dhami

Keerat carries ancestry from Panjab, "the land of five rivers," to the lands surrounding the "lake of shining waters." As a second-generation settler to these lands, Keerat's work centres on the ecological and cross-cultural challenges of immigration and assimilation to this colonial project at the crux of the climate crisis. Keerat holds a degree in Environmental Geography, Human Geography, and Diaspora and Transnational Studies from the University of Toronto and has half a decade of experience organizing communities comprising the Greenbelt (Golden Horseshoe) around climate action. Prior to joining YAC, Keerat co-authored a report persuading the sitting Prime Minister to act on climate change, partook in the incorporation of Peel Region's first climate council, and founded Our Climate Café, a cyberspace for concerned citizens to come together to chat about navigating the climate crisis.

Kristyn Ing

Kristyn grew up in the GTA, in Thornhill, ON. Raised with an appreciation for the outdoors and the natural environment, she completed her BSc in Environmental Science and Biology at Western University. In the fall, she will begin a MSc in Environmental Sustainability at the University of Ottawa. Throughout her studies, she learned about various environmental issues and injustices as well as the dynamic and interwoven nature of the climate crisis. She feels empowered to use her knowledge, interests and voice to take action to help combat anthropogenic climate change, and pursue an active role within the Youth Advisory Council. In her spare time, you can find her hiking, camping, travelling, playing softball with her friends or taking in live theatre!

Laura Hernandez Merlano

Laura is an active environmental advocate who loves giving back to her community and is always adding a global perspective to the projects she participates in. Born in Medellin, Colombia and raised in Ontario, she attended French Immersion school while dedicating her spare time to achieving her triple gold figure skating qualification. Laura is currently finishing her studies in Environmental Economics and Public Policy at the University of Ottawa and works as a Sustainability Analyst at Global Affairs Canada. As an avid community volunteer, she has participated in several grassroots programs and co-founded MealCare's Ottawa chapter, a non-profit that aims to redirect edible food waste to food-insecure communities. In her spare time, Laura enjoys cooking new plant-based recipes, staying active outdoors, and playing her ukulele, especially by a campfire.

Marden Klepka

In addition to her work on the Council, Marden is a teacher pursuing her Masters degree in Deaf and Hard of Heading education. As a child of a Deaf Adult (CODA), Marden is passionate about bringing accessibility to all platforms and events, both digitally and in-person, and is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). Marden loves music and plays multiple instruments. She’s also been an active participant in Uncovering Common Ground, JGI Canada’s Indigenization and Reconciliation project, for the Winnipeg cohort and enjoys volunteering in her spare time.

Mélodie Ouellette

Mélodie is a third-year student at the University of Toronto, double majoring in Evolutionary Anthropology and Archaeology. She is returning for another change-making year with the Youth Advisory Council. In the past, Mélodie has worked alongside other dedicated youth within Ontario to challenge linguistic inequalities regarding the Franco-Ontarian community. When she is not busy studying, you can find her walking around the Royal Ontario Museum or taking a stroll through the Toronto Zoo.

Natalya Assance

Natalya is from Beausoleil First Nation, also known as Christian Island, Ontario. She is part of the Otter clan in Ojibwe Culture and is both Ojibwe and Cree. Natalya is currently completing her diploma to be an Ecosystem Management Technician at Fleming College’s School of Environmental & Natural Resources Sciences, with a special designation in Indigenous Perspectives. Her dream is to build her career working on conservation and restoration projects all around the world. She is passionate about issues around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada and bringing Indigenous voices to climate change solutions. Coming from an isolated reservation, Natalya looks forward to bringing her perspectives as a young, Indigenous woman and her positive attitude to the council.