Waterfront Regeneration Trust fellowship provides students with hands-on learning in the Rouge National Urban Park

The next generation of conservation leaders in Canada are being fostered in Rouge National Urban Park for the third year in a row, thanks to the legacy of a community leader who helped to save and protect the Rouge Valley in the Greater Toronto Area.

Established in 2019, the Pauline Browes Future Conservation Leaders Fellowship aims to develop our country’s emerging environmental leaders who will build on her conservation legacy. The Fellowship is awarded to the candidate that demonstrates a strong commitment to the environment and a passion for making a difference in their community.

Student fellows benefit from valuable learning and mentorship opportunities through a summer position at Rouge National Urban Park. Working under the guidance of the dynamic Resource Conservation team, students meet the challenges involved in protecting and restoring an urban river valley as part of Canada’s national parks system and gain an appreciation for the Rouge’s vast natural heritage.

This year’s recipient of the fellowship is Mel Martins of Mississauga, who worked for Parks Canada as a Resource Conservation student during the 2021 summer season. Martins holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Guelph and is currently working towards a Masters of Science in Ecology at York University.

Some of the summer highlights for Martins included taking part in chimney swift surveys as well as caring for turtle eggs as part of the Blanding’s turtle reintroduction project. Martins has always had a love of animals, and has directed that passion into her academic studies, with a more recent focus on conservation and human impacts on wildlife. Martins also volunteers her time conducting salamander research with Rare Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge, Ontario.  In her fellowship video submissionMartins states:

“Working in and around all the restored wetlands and forests of the Rouge drives home the message that human impact can be positive when efforts are directed towards beneficial change. Having a national urban park as large and diverse as the Rouge situated near the city provides protection for biodiversity while simultaneously encouraging public education and awareness on the importance of how our actions impact the environment.”

“It is gratifying to work with Parks Canada to cultivate the next generation of knowledgeable, committed conservation leaders. We are so happy to welcome Melissa and appreciate her contribution to this legacy work”, says Pauline Browes.

The Fellowship was established by the Board of Directors for the Waterfront Regeneration Trust to recognize the nearly four decades of tremendous contributions that Browes has made to protect the Rouge Valley, and ultimately see it designated as Canada’s first national urban park. At the end of their summer employment, Mel Martins will also deliver a presentation to the Waterfront Regeneration Trust’s Board, write a blog for their website and produce a short video about working in Rouge National Urban Park.

Learn more about the Pauline Browes Future Conservation Leaders Fellowship.


Pauline Browes Future Conservation Leaders Fellowship Recipients: Mariah Ramlogan (2019), Mel Martins (2021), Samantha Clapperton (2020)