Youth Water Leaders Program

Open to youth aged 17 – 25, the Youth Water Leaders Program will provide participants with the skills and tools necessary to identify and propose solutions to environmental issues within the Ottawa River watershed, while offering them hands-on opportunities to learn about the river and make a difference in their communities.

The program:

Solving complex water issues in the Ottawa River watershed can only come from a strong water movement: citizens who understand, steward and defend our most precious resource. Ottawa Riverkeeper wants to empower the youth of today to become water leaders! They will be the driving forces in their communities, working to protect the Ottawa River watershed and ensuring a swimmable, drinkable and fishable future for all. With this in mind, Ottawa Riverkeeper is excited to announce our latest initiative The Youth Water Leaders Program!

Open to youth aged 17 – 25 who are interested in developing a stronger understanding of environmental water protection and have a passion for making a difference in their communities, the Youth Water Leaders Program will provide participants with the skills and tools necessary to identify and propose solutions to environmental issues within the Ottawa River watershed. Following a six module program, participants will work with experts in the fields of communication, science, outreach and volunteering to co-design and carry out meaningful service projects addressing environmental water challenges in their communities.

Over a 3 to 6-month period, participants will gain more than 120 volunteer hours through mentorship workshops and the completion of their co-designed volunteer projects. They will get to know the watershed and learn about the different policies, regulations and authorities governing it. Participants will also get to experience the Ottawa River firsthand as part of a paddle expedition they will help plan!

Upon completion of the program, participants will have developed the research, organizational and leadership skills that will serve them well in pursuing the future career of their choice, while making invaluable connections and helping to improve the health of the Ottawa River watershed.

6 Qualities of a Water Leader

How to apply:

Ottawa Riverkeeper operates in both Quebec and Ontario, in French and English, and  is dedicated to working with youth from the diverse communities within our watershed. We encourage those located outside the National Capital Region to apply.

If you are interested in participating in the Youth Water Leaders Program, please apply using this online form, or contact Naomi Sarazin at for more information.

Latest news:

  • November 1st, 2019: We kicked-off the second cohort of Youth Water Leaders Program with a meeting at the Ottawa Riverkeeper office. The youth are preparing to share their Watermarks; developing ideas for their service projects; and brainstorming ideas for upcoming educational workshops.
  • October 4th to 6th, 2019: Youth Water Leaders participated in a rafting expedition on the Gatineau River, led by Boreal River Adventures. Participants learned leadership, teamwork, and wilderness skills, as well as more on the ecology of the watershed. A First Nation member of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg joined the youth to share the history of the area and its significance to the Algonquin people.
  • September 30th, 2019: Recruitment for the second cohort of the Youth Water Leaders Program ends. The first cohort of youth have been so engaged that they will continue to be a part of the program alongside the second cohort!
  • August 30th, 2019: Youth Water Leaders met with our Water Quality Intern to learn about Ottawa Riverkeeper’s recreational water quality testing program. The youth got a chance to collect water samples, process them, and perform an analysis to determine if E.coli was present!
  • July 12th to 14th, 2019: Youth Water Leaders visited OWL Rafting where they did some whitewater rafting, worked on their canoeing and kayaking skills and met with some local Riverwatchers to learn more about issues affecting the Ottawa River
  • June 29th, 2019: Youth Water Leaders participated in Ecology Ottawa’s Green Infrastructure event at Britannia Park where they shared information about green infrastructure techniques we can all do to protect the Ottawa River
  • June 15th, 2019: Some Youth Water Leaders met at Parc Moussette for our Beach Cleanup and to learn more about the recreational water quality monitoring that Ottawa Riverkeeper does throughout the summer in support of Swim Guide 
  • May 11th, 2019: The Youth Water Leaders had their second meeting, where they brainstormed project ideas. They’re hoping to engage with the watershed community, showing simple things people can do in their daily lives to protect the river and highlighting some of our dedicated Riverwatchers and volunteers who are already doing the work of a water leader!
  • March 30th, 2019: a group of 8 young people gathered at the Ottawa Riverkeeper office to kick-off the Youth Water Leaders Program!