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

Anjali Narasimhan

Anjali was born and raised in the multicultural, international community of Geneva, Switzerland. She is currently a veterinary student at the Ontario Veterinary College and is pursuing a career in wildlife health and conservation. Prior to veterinary school, she completed her M.Sc. in Conservation Medicine with a focus on One Health and great ape conservation. Anjali finds endless fascination and inspiration in the natural world and is driven to dedicate her life to preserving and protecting our planet. She strives to cultivate an environmental ethic in others and is passionate to promote a harmonious coexistence and respect between humans, animals, and the environment.

Asmaa Housni

Asmaa has lived in Montreal for several years now but was born in Casablanca, Morocco. She is in her final year of studying Dietetics at McGill University and aspires to showcase the importance of nutrition on the body’s optimal functioning and recovery, using food sustainability as the backbone of her approach. Asmaa is very excited to join the Youth Advisory Council to ensure the perspectives of young Canadians is included in and ensuring they have a voice in the process.

Daria Goncharova

Born and raised in Russia in a small Siberian city, Daria came to Canada to pursue her master’s degree in Political Studies at the University of Manitoba. Since then, she's discovered her passion for community development and hopes to continue making a meaningful impact. Daria has had extensive volunteer experience, including Career Trek, Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties and Winnipeg Harvest. Professionally, she has a diverse employment history, with experience of working in academia, industry, and not-for-profit. Daria is a language enthusiast and speaks English, Russian, French and Portuguese!

Jaya Scott

Jaya grew up in the unceded territories of the Lekwungen and SENĆOŦEN speaking peoples, in the beautiful greater Victoria area. She moved to Ontario where she studied International Relations at Western University. Together, these experiences make Jaya passionate about both the environment and human rights, especially climate justice. She has worked on food security and sustainability at the grassroots level in Victoria, studied UNDRIP and Truth and Reconciliation within Canada, and photographed the global climate strikes that took place in September and November 2019 in London, Ontario. Jaya is excited to work at the intersection of these interests with the Youth Advisory Council and is eager to learn from the amazing youth involved in Roots and Shoots across Canada.

Kelsey MacDonald

After completing a degree in biochemistry and spending a year in the environmental chemistry industry, Kelsey decided to leave the lab and head outdoors, literally. Inspired by Dr. Jane’s presentation in London, Ontario, Kelsey packed her bags and moved from southern Ontario to PEI to study Wildlife Conservation Technology at Holland College. Now, as a conservation student, you can often find her working on stream restoration projects in her chest waders or walking the island looking for wildlife. Kelsey is excited to contribute and learn alongside the Youth Advisory Council this year and hopes to make a valuable impact toward a more ecologically conscious world.

Kristyn Ing

Kristyn has recently completed her BSc in Environmental Science at Western University. 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 addition to her passion for the natural environment and the outdoors, Kristyn enjoys playing softball, travelling, and 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

Marden is a recent graduate from the University of Winnipeg, and is excited to start her journey as a teacher this September. In her spare time she loves to watch movies and play music. Over this past year, Marden has developed and explored her passion for volunteering and supporting her community. She actively seeks out opportunities to support local organizations and create meaningful social change.

Mehwish Rana

Mehwish is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto and brings her passion for sustainability to JGI’s Youth Advisory Council. Mehwish believes that all individuals, young and old, should partake in the fight for climate change and Indigenous rights. She is also particularly interested in eco-friendly community and city designs as well as green healthcare.

Mélodie Ouellette

Mélodie is a third-year student at the University of Toronto, double majoring in Evolutionary Anthropology and Archaeology. This is her first time working with the Roots & Shoots program, but she is thrilled to get started. 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.

Robin Pollard

Robin’s experiences growing up in the expanding mountain town of Canmore, in Treaty Seven Territory, and seeing the daily struggles that ecosystems and wildlife face due to over-expansion, are what originally lead her to be involved in local advocacy for wildlife corridors and protections. Her love for the natural world has been guided by her ongoing education in Indigenous Studies and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. These learnings have amplified to Robin the importance of a future wherein environmental conservation is approached through a relational lens that focuses on social justice and cultural awareness. She hopes to embody these values by amplifying marginalized voices, continuously being open to new learnings and creating spaces for important conversations in her everyday life.

Carol Markos

Carol Markos is from Mississauga, ON and has been involved with the JGI through the Uncovering Common Ground Initiative. She has recently graduated from McMaster University with a BA in Indigenous Studies and Political Science and will be beginning her MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies in the fall. Carol is passionate about building solidarity between Indigenous and Settler communities through strong relationships guided by honest communication.