Meet Chris Gee & Anissa Watson
Chris Gee and Anissa Watson both have a passion for conservation, as well as for getting others involved in the movement to preserve the Skeena Watershed. Chris founded Youth On Water (YOW) under the direction and mandate of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition and Anissa helps to organize and oversee its various activities and programs. YOW has operated programs in various communities throughout the region successfully for several years, and its popularity grows every season. Says Anissa, “We can see that in small isolated communities how much a program like this benefits the youth. It’s nice to see how the program brings people from diverse backgrounds together.”
They’re brought together through a variety of activities, like river rafting and swift water rescue training. Not only does it give participants a sense of just how important Skeena waters are to the local culture and lifestyle, but participants come away from their experiences with a new found sense of self-esteem and empowerment, as well as an appreciation for the local environment and an awareness of their personal responsibility to it.
The small town atmosphere of the communities where YOW operates definitely adds depth to the experiences of the participants. Says Anissa, “It’s easy to build a sense of connection and lasting relationships with people of diverse backgrounds, and connecting youth with their watershed is accessible because the river is literally in our backyard.” Accessibility to programs is a crucial part of YOW’s mission, and thanks to local and regional partnerships, YOW has been able to offer its programs free of charge to participants.
Empowering. Supportive. Adventurous.
Youth on Water (YOW) is the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition’s flagship program. More than just an outdoor recreation program, YOW is focused on empowering local youth through water level activities. YOW installs a mindset of stewardship of and appreciation for local natural resources, particularly the waters that feed and sustain this region. The responsibility of stewardship in one of the most extraordinary regions in North America will soon fall into the hands of the next generation. The YOW program aims to raise youth and community awareness about the importance of local rivers for recreation, culture and survival.
YOW helps to educate young people, their families and communities on the current threats to the integrity of the Skeena Watershed and develops today’s youth into tomorrow’s conservation leaders. YOW offers a number of water and land-based based programs including river guide training, free day rafting trips for youth and women, leadership activities and environmental stewardship programs. The future is YOW!
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