Per their website, “The Starfish Canada’s Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 program recognizes and rewards young Canadian leaders creating positive environmental change in their local communities. Past recipients include scientists, gardeners, outdoor recreationists, entrepreneurs who initiated green businesses, and volunteers who sit on the Board of Directors for local non-profit groups. By showcasing these individuals, we hope to inspire other Canadian youth to become leaders in their local communities.”
Connel Bradwell has spent the majority of his life campaigning for wildlife conservation – encouraging, mentoring, and providing young people from all backgrounds with opportunities to learn about wildlife.
Originally from the UK, Connel recalls watching birds in his garden with a species identification book, and was fascinated with all of the wildlife he saw. Today, Connel is known as an “encyclopedia” of wildlife facts.
As a child, Connel spent his summers in British Columbia, exploring the oceans and mountains of the Canadian west coast. Exposure to the breathtaking scenery inspired him to start volunteering in environmental conservation at the age of 13.
In 2011, Connel had the opportunity to volunteer with Cetus Research and Conservation in Canada. He researched orca behaviour and ensured that boaters were adhering to regulations. It was this experience that gave him a real love for the Canadian environment. He spent most of the time out on the ocean, monitoring orcas, cleaning up debris and garbage from the ocean and educating others about the orcas. He also learned about the heritage and history of the area, and the importance of the orcas to local First Nations.
Through his work, Connel has learned that access to nature isn’t equal, and that many people unfortunately miss out on these types of opportunities because of lack of accessibility to the adequate gear or transportation. “Speaking with Connel, you can see his commitment to championing people who are often overlooked in conservation,” says a colleague.
In his role now as a wildlife education manager with Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society, Connel is able to share conservation programs with different groups on Vancouver Island, including First Nations and refugee communities – free of cost.
Connel’s programs have inspired many of these students to set up their own initiatives, including wildlife clubs and beach cleanups. Thanks to Connel, thousands of young people have had the chance to learn about and participate in nature and environmental initiatives. These youth have developed new skills that they will carry forward with them for the rest of their lives.
In the future, Connel aspires to get involved with wildlife-oriented content for media, specifically to engage youth. He hopes to, “focus on endangered species and what people can do to help save them — bringing it into simpler messaging for young audiences.”
- Connel is a steering member of Youth for Wildlife Conservation, where he helps allow young conservationists a space to network.
- In 2013, Connel set up a project to deliver free wildlife education programs to all members of the local community which has reached over 35,000 people across Vancouver Island.
- He currently volunteers with Rocky Point Bird Observatory, assisting them with migratory bird research.
- Connel’s writing and photography is featured on his website, ‘Talk of The Wild’.