The Program

At a Glance

  • 4 grade 11 and 12 Ontario High School course credits
  • 1 semester (fall)
  • Classroom at Trent University) and PCVS
  • 1st year Trent (U stream) awarded to graduates with 80% average
  • Focus on integrating Indigenous perspectives on the land into sustainability understanding
  • emphasis on field learning – working with leaders in the community and the region on issues of energy, food, biodiversity, water, waste, transportation, urban planning and climate change (lots of field trips!)
  • strong focus on the role of innovation and understanding the quickly emerging green economy
  • leadership skill development around community mobilisation, , accessing levers of political power, communication and networking
  • cost: approximately $650 (covers all field trips and workshops).  Some financial assistance is available to increase program accessibility.


Youth Leadership in Sustainability (YLS) is an innovative experiential-learning program based in Peterborough, Ontario that prepares grade 11 and 12 students for leadership roles in sustainability initiatives at the local and global levels.  The one semester program launched in September 2018 and is open to students from any KPR, PVNC, private or home school, provided they can get themselves to Trent University and PACE @ PCVS on school days.

YLS is a Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board program in partnership with Trent University, the Kawartha World Issues Centre (KWIC) and Fleming College. The YLS classroom is on Trent University campus and at PCVS in downtown Peterborough but the program  takes us into our forests, communities, and the larger region!

YLS is taught as an integrated 4 credit package that gives us much flexibility in our day for extended field trips and outdoor exploration. Our hands-on learning experiences outside and within the traditional classroom are rich and incorporate teachings from Indigenous and global perspectives.

salamander survey
spotted salamander
dancing the rice

Why YLS?

Many young people are acutely aware of the threatened state of our planet, but lack understanding of the complexity of issues and solutions and have rarely been given the means and opportunity to take positive, meaningful action.

Big challenges like climate change that impact food and water security, forest and ocean decline and human migration urgently need bright and creative young minds to help find and implement solutions. At the same time, the quickly emerging clean/green economy is offering up exciting, meaningful work to those who have the right skill set.

YLS immerses students in the concepts, controversies, and best practices in sustainability.  Traditional Environmental Indigenous ways of Knowing provide the starting point . Through application of this learning in real, local community settings students gain confidence in their leadership abilities. Leaders in sustainability need to know how to facilitate communication and then mobilize and innovate within their communities. These “soft” leadership skills are taught and practiced within YLS programming, as are the specific verbal and written communication skills that are necessary to interact with media and political power.

Teaching and learning within YLS is organized around the “Integrated Curriculum” format, where students are together with their teachers throughout the day. This approach provides almost unlimited flexibility for us to move between our classroom, community and travel settings and allows us to take advantage of new learning opportunities on short notice (conferences, special presentations, workshops and other scenarios).

Academic Program

Participating grade 11 and 12 students will attend YLS for one (fall) high school semester and earn 4 OSSD high school credits which will be offered at the University and College preparation levels in partnership with Trent University.

  • World Issues | CGW4U/C: (“big picture” on environment, economics, human rights, globalization, disparities in quality of life)
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  • Environment and Resource Management | CGR4M OR Environmental Science | SVN3M: (“hands-on” exploration of sustainability in climate change, energy, food, transportation, housing, water, urban planning and biodiversity. Focus on “best practices”)  Resource Management is a Canada and World Studies credit, while Environmental Science is a Science credit.
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  • Sustainability Leadership | IDC3O: This Interdisciplinary Studies course was created for the YLS program and will help students develop skills from a range of subject areas to become leaders in sustainability and will dove-tail with the learning they are doing in the other three YLS courses.  It draws curriculum from Equity and Social Justice: From Theory to Practice (HSE4M), Recreation and Healthy Active Living Leadership (PLF4M) and Entrepreneurship (BDI3C – with focus on green and social innovation)
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  • English – Contemporary First Nation Metis Innuit Voices | NBE3U/C and Eng4U/C: Grade 11 English full equivalent with focus on Indigenous authors and their perspectives on relationships with the land (otherwise referred to as sustainability). Communication skill development aimed specifically at leadership development.  Eng 4U & 4C offered alongside NBE3U/C – the grade 12 courses will draw many readings from Indigenous authors.
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First year credit from Trent University

YLS graduates achieving an average of 80% in the two environmental-themed courses will earn the first year Foundations of Environmental Science and Studies credit (ERSC101OH) from Trent University (through a “cross articulation” agreement).  YLS students attend the weekly ERSC101 lectures and do some similar assignments to the university class.

Program Cost

The cost of the program willl be approximately $650.  This fee covers all program workshops, events, accommodation for overnight trips and all associated busing.   We are very regularly out of the classroom on field trips and engaged in workshops with outside organisations.  A deposit of $100 will be required after acceptance to the program.  The balance will be due at program startup.  Families are also welcome to pay in installments leading up to program startup.

Some limited financial assistance is available to increase program accessibility – students should not let financial hardship prevent them from applying.