Eco-Scholar Program

2018 Eco-Scholars

Thank you to everyone who applied!  Following are the 2018 Eco-Scholars.  

Emiy Gilbert, Cultural Anthropology – University of Toronto

Emiy Gilbert - 2018 Guelph Organic Conference Eco ScholarI am a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto in a collaborative program between the School for the Environment and the Department of Anthropology. My research examines food insecurity in an urban Canadian context. In January 2018, I will be beginning a year of ethnographic fieldwork where I will be working in food banks and community gardens in Regent Park, Toronto.

I see myself making a career in organics because my research focuses on the impacts and uses of urban gardens in alleviating the racialized, gendered, and class realities of Canadian food insecurity. Organic gardening is helping to foster links across previously marginalized sections of the population.

I will be working with these community gardens, as well as in the food banks who prepare the food obtained from them, during my fieldwork. Organic gardening as a social and public health strategy for alleviating social marginalization in an urban context is a key component of the dissertation that I will write once my fieldwork is complete.

As one in a collaborative Ph.D. program, I see the necessity for interdisciplinary learning and relationship building, specifically in relation to the issues that my work addresses: poverty and the environment. 

Sharita Henry, Environment & Business – University of Waterloo

Sharita Henry - 2018 Guelph Organic Conference Eco ScholarIn the spring of 2018, I will be moving to the east shore of Georgian Bay to start and run a CSA on 200 acres of farmland (I will be starting with 1 cultivated acre). This will be a huge undertaking for me, and as a proponent of sustainability and environmental care, I am hoping to run the whole operation organically. 

With a background in Environment and Business, I am very excited to be able to combine my love of agriculture with business and run a profitable organic farm. This is something that I have been planning for 2 years, and now I feel I am ready to take the steps to learn more about how to be successful in organics. I have also managed the University of Waterloo’s Campus Market Garden for 4 years.

At this new homestead, I will also be coordinating and running educational programs about small-scale farming, market gardening, and the importance of organic agriculture. I recognize the scale of this endeavor that I am undertaking, but as a young Ontarian, I really do see a need for increasing activity in organic food production. I want to start up this CSA correctly, and for me, a huge part of that is doing it organically. Long-term, I’m hoping to start a sustainable living community in Ontario, with tiny-homes, an organic farm, and apiaries.

Cassandra Masschelein, Integrated Science – McMaster University

Cassandra Masschelein - 2018 Guelph Organic Conference Eco ScholarOver the past year I became involved with the McMaster Student Union Service Mac Farmstand as a customer service representative. This service advocates for local food and the importance of eating seasonally. This experience offered me a platform to share with others the many benefits of local, seasonal, and organic produce. 

As I had grown up on my family’s Ontario farm, this brought me back to my roots and reminded me of my passion for sustainable food. I have been hired to be the director of this service next season, and thus will be working closely with many organic and local farmers.

With this reconnection and my passion for cooking, I see myself making a career as an executive chef. I imagine myself running a fine dining vegetarian restaurant in Toronto, where the items on the menu are composed of local, seasonal, and organic ingredients – some of which I would grow myself on a small urban organic farm. This restaurant would make a difference in educating about the importance of caring for our environment, and how delicious and easy it can be. 

 Julia Maxwell, International Development / Rural & Agricultural Development – University of Guelph

Julia Maxwell - 2018 Guelph Organic Conference Eco ScholarI was raised on a farm in rural Saskatchewan: a vast one thousand acres of grain crops interspersed with sloughs, poplar bluffs, little patches of native grassland, and the home quarter where my mother kept chickens, flowers, berries, and a thriving vegetable garden. Although my parents have always held a deep appreciation for the natural world, my father managed his fields the same way that all of his neighbours and peers did, with chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

 As I grew, I began learning about the social and environmental issues plaguing our food system. I developed a keen interest in ecological growing, and food sovereignty movements. I worked and volunteered on a number of ecological farms, and enrolled in a university program focusing on food security. Through my studies and my lived experiences, I have fully come to believe that a healthy food system is the foundation of a healthy society.

Soon, I have to decide whether or not I want to take over the family farm. I know with all my heart that I want to be an ecological farmer, so I am doing everything I can right now to learn: taking classes, taking jobs, reading books, and doing workshops.

Receiving the eco-scholarship would be so valuable to me as I prepare for the transition.

Kitty RLynn (Lickers), Social Justice – Wilfrid Laurier University

Kitty RLynn - 2018 Guelph Organic Conference Eco ScholarI work at the Our Sustenance Program. We are based at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.  We strive to provide access and education to healthy, whole food. My career here will continue to grow toward promoting organic growing and eating. This follows my community’s culture and history. 

I am always seeking ways to promote and grow our program and show my community what is possible in reference to growing our own food. 

I am doing a Masters in Social Justice because I believe that options to grow and have healthy whole food are a real positive change that I can help impact in the health and well being of my Indigenous community. The more skills I can gain to help that happen, the better. 

The training at this year’s conference will be a real benefit to me. I want to gain the skills to both grow organics and also teach my community the skills to do that for themselves. The more we can share this, the better off we will be overall.


Become one of five Conference Eco-Scholars and receive the following…

  • $500 Honorarium
  • An Organic Food & Wine Dinner Ticket
  • A Keynote Forum Ticket
  • Workshop Passes for Saturday & Sunday
  • Incredible networking experiences with fellow Eco-Scholars, the Eco-Scholar Coordinator, sponsors and others.

To view information and photos from past Eco-Scholars please visit here!

Who Can Apply

** Please note we are no longer accepting applications for the 2018 Eco-Scholar program.  Please check back in October / November 2018 for information on the 2019 Eco-Scholar program.

Applicants must be a registered student at a high school, recognized nutrition school, community college or university (undergrad or grad), and interested in making a career in organics.

Successful applicants are expected to

  • Provide a photo of themselves and/or high quality selfie.
  • Attend the Conference on
    • Friday January 26th, 2018 from 4 pm to 10 pm to attend the Organic Food & Wine dinner and Keynote Forum.
    • Saturday, January 27th, 2018 from 8 am to 5 pm for photos with sponsors, to attend workshops of your choice and visit the trade show.
    • Sunday attendance is recommended but not required
  • Please note that transportation, accommodations and meals are not included and it is the responsibility of each Eco-Scholar to arrange and pay for these.

How to Apply

Qualified applicants are required to complete an application form on-line that asks for an essay of 250 words or less about how they envision a career in organics.

The deadline to apply is December 22nd, 2017.  

Winners will be contacted early to mid-January.  In the event a chosen Eco-Scholar does not confirm their participation within 3 business days of being contacted, the conference reserves the right to select an alternate.

Before completing the form we recommend that you prepare your essay on a separate document.  You will not be able to save your progress on the submission form.

After submitting your application you should receive a confirmation email.  *Please check your Spam folder if you do not receive it.

If you apply but are not selected as an Eco-Scholar consider volunteering as a means of attending the conference for free and to gain valuable networking opportunities.

Any questions can be sent to the Eco-Scholar Coordinator Elin Gwyn at .  Please be specific in what you need and also provide a phone number where you can be reached. Please allow 3-5 business days for a response.  

*As of Dec 18/2017 we are trouble shooting a problem that some Mac users are having accessing the website.  If you are having issues please try using Chrome as your browser and email a brief description of the problem, whether you are a Mac user and the browser you are using to Susan at 


Application Form


About You

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Please be sure to enter at least one phone number where you can be reached.

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ie. permanent address / parents address

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Your School

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Contest Essay

How do you see yourself making a career in organics? (Only the first 250 words will be considered.)

Once you press "Send" you should receive an email confirmation of your entry.