Environmental Outreach & Stewardship Coordinator, Township of King
Bachelor in Environmental Studies 2015
"York’s Bachelor of Environmental Studies program isn’t a program where you come out with one outcome; there is a wide range of opportunities and even an option to do a co-op placement. I loved the ability to get into whatever niche you wanted"
About Kathryn McLellan
Before coming to York University for Environmental Studies, Kathryn McLellan was always passionate about the environment. After high school, she attended the Environmental Landscape Management Program at Seneca College where she gained lots of hands-on skills. Wanting to explore more of the academic background of environmental studies, she sat down with a Seneca counsellor who suggested looking into York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. Soon after, she transferred Seneca credits to York and started studying at the Faculty.
“York’s Bachelor of Environmental Studies program isn’t a program where you come out with one outcome; there is a wide range of opportunities and even an option to do a co-op placement. I loved the ability to get into whatever niche you wanted.”
Her experience in university “let [her] learn a bit about everything” and the program’s flexibility allowed McLellan to accomplish many things during her studies at York. With lots of room to learn and many courses to choose from, McLellan got to take courses outside of her major and took advantage of the certificates offered by York, completing a Sustainable Energy certificate before graduating. Relentless in her pursuit of learning, McLellan also gained relevant work experience while studying at both the Toronto and Region Conservation and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority as a technician.
Today, she is the Township of King’s only Environmental Outreach and Stewardship Coordinator. It was not only her dedication and hard work that got her an interview for the position, but also the support of key faculty members. After submitting her application to the Township, McLellan reached out to Peter Love, a professor that was especially “instrumental during [her] time in the program”, for a reference.
“Peter Love said that if anyone received an ‘A’ in his Energy Management course then we could ask him for a reference. Classes were done for the year when I got the interview but I reached out to him through email and he quickly responded with his welcoming officer to connect me to people within his network”.
Reflective of the Faculty’s interdisciplinary nature, McLellan’s role allows her to participate in cross-departmental collaboration. Although she works for Parks and Recreation, she liaises with the Planning Department for sustainability work, and when development proposals appear, she works to conserve natural spaces. With the ongoing growth and development happening in the Township of King, McLellan remains committed to protecting ecological habitats.
“I’m passionate about environmental conservation. Working at the municipality, I get involved in a wide range of things because the town’s small. I get to work on the Cold Creek Strategic Plan, tall grass restoration, invasive species management, energy management, grants, plantings, and guided hikes. I work with a very responsive and supportive team that’s open to new ideas and suggestions.”
McLellan continues to extend her passion for environmentalism and love for learning by meeting the needs of the town and community. She created, proposed and received funding through York Region for the implementation of the “Environmentor” program, which connects youth to a one-week environmental volunteerism opportunity around the Township of King.
“From creating habitats, restoring wildlife areas, tree planting to natural art installations, the program is designed to give [youth] hands-on experience and allows the Township to complete projects that require a lot of volunteer support. Students can also use the program as part of their high school volunteer hours.”
For current and future students in environmental studies, McLellan says, “If you’re going to commit your time and money to post-secondary education, make sure your area of focus is a reflection of who you are and what you want to be. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer and if someone tells you ‘no’, use it as a drive to succeed. If you love what you do, your passion will set you apart from others”.
Written by Abigael Pamintuan