Why I wanted to intern at WWF-Canada’s Iqaluit office

When I found out about the community liaison internship at WWF-Canada’s Iqaluit office through my high school in May, my interest in environmental issues and desire to get involved in my community drove me to apply. My experience has been very fulfilling so far — I’m enjoying the local outreach, research and content creation that I’ve been doing.

And I’m excited for the rest of the summer before I start grade 10.

photo of Katie Yu, WWF-Canada intern, beside a lake near Iqaluit, Nunavut
Katie Yu, community liaison intern in WWF-Canada’s Iqaluit office, doing water quality testing at a nearby lake © Katie Yu

As a student interested in science and the environment, I knew an internship at WWF-Canada would be a fitting position for my first office job. I grew up around the sea ice, tundra and mountains — and love the Arctic landscapes and wildlife — so I want to spread awareness of the environmental issues here and the work being done to address them. And I want to contribute to that work myself.

WWF-Canada intern Katie Yu doing a clean-up in Iqaluit, Nunavut
WWF-Canada intern Katie Yu doing a clean-up in Iqaluit, Nunavut © Katie Yu

I’ve lived in Iqaluit, Nunavut for my entire life, and I’ve realized that there is so much to explore and contribute to my community. I want to meet more people around town and spend time outdoors, especially now that we’re reopening after the pandemic hit us earlier this year.

I’m also passionate about youth involvement in environmental sustainability, so I’m excited to have this opportunity while being a high school student. I want to gain more ideas for what I can do to protect the environment outside of my internship, and I want to help other young people get involved. But I also want them to know that they don’t have to work at an environmental organization to make positive change.

The work has been very exciting so far. I help with local initiatives such as Water Wednesdays and community cleanups, and I loved talking with the public and seeing our city become cleaner during the cleanups. (One day we decided to stop early, but I still spent most of the afternoon going into the ditches and cleaning up around my neighbourhood by myself.)

Every Wednesday, we test the quality of a local body of water with the public, and I enjoy leading the activity and getting others involved in citizen science, especially kids. When we did it at a lake in my neighbourhood, there were two kids who came by, and I loved asking them questions and getting them to test pH and dissolved oxygen levels, even as mosquitoes attacked us! After we do our tests, we log our data into the Water Rangers website, where thousands of other citizen scientists post their results.

I’ve also been interested in the arts since I was a kid, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to create content at WWF-Canada, including posters for our initiatives and pieces of writing.

Working with others who share my interest for the environment has been a valuable experience, and I’ve gotten to know some amazing people. I basically interview every colleague I meet for the first time because I love learning about the work everyone does, and I enjoy talking to other interns as well. I’m grateful for the sense of community we have, especially because we’re working on challenging issues.

Water quality testing form
Citizen science form used by WWF-Canada’s Iqaluit, NU office to test water quality

At my internship, I’m learning a lot about environmental issues and gaining many personal skills. Working on these issues as a teenager and having my first job at a huge environmental organization has been difficult sometimes, and I’ve experienced some insecurity because many of my colleagues have degrees and years of experience in their fields. But I know that this is a common experience for interns, and I’m learning to take in all the new knowledge and ask questions when I’m unsure about how to do a task or what something means.

After starting my internship, I’ve found myself doing more research on environmental issues in my own time, and I’m also becoming more interested in issues specific to the Arctic, such as climate change warming the North three times as fast as the rest of the world.

I hope to gain more skills, make new memories, and continue learning about environmental issues in the rest of my internship, and apply what I’ve learned to my school, community and career.

After working at WWF-Canada for more than a month, I already have a greater appreciation for my community, a stronger interest in environmental issues, and a better idea of what I can do to address them. I’m grateful that WWF-Canada has an office in my hometown of Iqaluit, and I hope we continue to have interns working here every summer.