Getting to know Emily Keller
The Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA) has been an SVP Investee since 2018. They deliver free, experiential nature programs in urban spaces for young people ages 5-25 living in Metro Vancouver.
We chatted with Executive Director, Emily Keller to learn about her background and what inspires her to give her time, energy, and expertise to EYA.
Tell us a little bit about your career and education background?
I have a Master’s in Environmental Studies from Queen’s University and did my undergrad at the University of Victoria in Political Science. Before starting my position at EYA in 2016, I spent some time working at the BC Ministry of Environment, UBC Design Centre for Sustainability, the Islands Trust, and the David Suzuki Foundation. This is my first ED role and I’m still learning and stretching every day – which is exactly why I love it.
What inspires you to make a difference in the world?
I grew up on a remote island at the northern reaches of Georgia Strait, on the unceded and traditional territories of the Laich-kwil-tach and Mainland Comox. As a kid, I was surrounded by nature all the time. This gave me a deep appreciation for the natural world and an awareness of how important nature is to my mental, emotional, and physical health. I want every kid to have the same opportunity to experience the transformative and healing power of nature.
What (or who) brought SVP Vancouver to your attention?
EYA was fortunate to be able to move into the SpencerCreo Centre in October 2017, and so became office neighbours with SVP Vancouver. I reached out to your ED, and as they say, the rest is history.
What is your favourite thing about working with SVP?
It’s hard to choose a favourite – there are many things that I really appreciate. Obviously, the support we’ve received to hire a Fundraising Officer has been incredible and is already transforming the way we work. Opportunities to work with Amanda (Fundraising Director) and Meagan (Social Impact Coach) to develop our fundraising model and evaluation systems, meeting SVP Partners and hearing their ideas, and connecting with other Investees, all stand out as highlights.
What is something interesting or significant that has happened in your organization since you’ve been working with SVP?
We’ve teamed up with alumni Investee, Red Fox Healthy Living Society, to deliver a new youth program!
Over the next year, we’ll co-deliver three programs bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to explore decolonization through hands-on land stewardship in East Vancouver. Youth will create a traditional food and plant medicine harvest garden in Cottonwood Community Garden and go on overnight camping trips at UBC Farm.