A Student Takes Responsibility For Her Campus & Region
Lesia Kinach participated in Eco Practicum Catskills in the summer of 2013. She is from northern Ontario, Canada and is currently in her final year of undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto. Lesia has contributed her time and skills to environmentally-focussed groups on campus over the years. Most recently, she has been very involved with the Hart House Farm Committee, a student-led group that organizes seasonal events and sustainable farming activities at the Hart House Farm, located on the Niagara Escarpment in Caledon, Ontario.
What do you study and do at university and what lessons from Eco Practicum do you apply?
I am studying environmental geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). I am also serving as Co-Leader of the Hart House Farm Committee. The things that I learned and experienced at Eco Practicum have complemented my studies and helped me discover ways that I could engage in the food movement back home in Ontario. After participating in Eco Practicum, I realized the potential to source food locally for our Farm Committee events. After doing some research, I found 100km Foods Inc and we’ve been getting lots of our food from them since fall 2013.
What are the most fulfilling and most challenging parts of what you do?
The most fulfilling part of leading the Farm Committee and running events at the Farm is seeing the look on students’ faces as they discover the incredible natural beauty of rural Ontario. So many of our guests have expressed gratitude to our Committee for what we do, and that makes it worth all the hard work. The most challenging part of running a big event is keeping things organized and making sure we stay on schedule. There is always something unexpected that comes up, so we have to be able to think and problem solve on-the-spot.
Describe a moment or situation that helped you realize your passion?
There was a turning point during my first year of university, after a horrible calculus midterm. It made me think about what I am truly passionate about and what I actually wanted to spend the next four years studying. By the end of my first year, I had realized that geography (the social science side) was much more interesting to me than life science. I then started reading and learning more about food and agricultural issues, and I have been fascinated by all things food ever since.
What advice do you have for people looking to do meaningful work?
Get out there and find others who are passionate about the same things as you are, and who are doing meaningful work. Ask them questions and find out how they got to where they are today. I’ve found that talking to people and building networks and connections helps me discover unique opportunities. I also think it’s a good idea to spend some time doing a bit of research online and to subscribe to e-newsletters that provide news/updates on things or issues you are interested in.
What’s one thing you think everyone should know how to do?
I think everyone should know how to cook (and bake) from scratch, using real food.
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