© Courtesy of Lauren Castelino
Back in 2018, fresh out of high school and full of ideas, Lauren Castelino was on the hunt for a way to combine her passions for entrepreneurship, sustainability and youth empowerment and make a positive impact.
She started Pitch It Green with a mission of building the next generation of ecopreneurs—entrepreneurs in the environmental space—through pitch competitions, conferences and workshops, all in an effort to bolster the confidence of young people with great ideas and the passion to bring them to life. Over four years, Pitch It Green impacted over 6,000 young ecopreneurs, a fact that Castelino shares brings her immense pride.
As she approached her final year of undergrad studies, she noticed a pressing issue among her peers—ambitious young people struggling to secure jobs in the sustainability sector. Determined to bridge this gap, Castelino founded the Green Career Centre. Her mission was twofold: raise awareness about sustainability career paths and address the barriers faced by underrepresented youth.
“I wanted to find a way to understand their difficulties and make it easier for them to obtain employment in the environmental field,” she said. “I knew that to be a leader, it was essential to understand the problem from the ground up.”
She began by hosting webinars and facilitating open dialogues, exposing her friends and peers to a world of eco-career possibilities while listening to the challenges young people face in landing green jobs.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of my journey was the opportunity to present a policy brief I authored to policymakers at Natural Resources Canada, highlighting the need for greater inclusion of underrepresented youth, including newcomers to Canada, in government policies and programs related to employment in sustainability,” Castelino shared.
Her efforts resulted in positive policy changes regarding international students’ work opportunities off-campus, marking another in a lengthening list of her positive impacts on the world around her.
Soon after, Castelino’s path intersected with Regenesis during a summer camping trip, where she met Michael Jodah, the Co-Executive Director of Regenesis. Their shared values and desire for a more sustainable world ignited a fruitful partnership, and Castelino soon started as the Co-Executive Director.
Regenesis, a community environmental organization, was a natural fit for Castelino’s passion and vision. The organization runs diverse initiatives, including farmers’ markets, borrowing centres, tree planting, educational programs, and more. Under Castelino’s co-leadership, Regenesis thrived, hosting over 60 events across seven chapters, diverting thousands of pounds of waste from landfills.
With her newfound role at Regenesis, Castelino relaunched Pitch It Green, this time rebranded as the Green Career Centre.
“Our revitalized mission is to prepare underrepresented youth for green careers by hosting events such as our Green Career Fair, workshops and webinars. We also develop valuable and impactful resources such as our Wage Subsidy Matching Tool, which, in its initial launch on LinkedIn, reached 60,000 people alone.”
The Green Career Centre’s impact continues to grow, and looking ahead, Castelino envisions a future where both initiatives continue to succeed, fostering a long legacy of young people thriving in the sustainability sector.
“There has been a call to develop a federally funded Youth Climate Corps that would require $1 billion in funding for climate mitigation and adaptation efforts,” she shared. “I see both Regenesis and the Green Career Centre being part of this initiative since we have a deep and long-lasting relationship with youth in our network, especially youth from marginalized backgrounds who are disproportionately impacted by the impacts of climate change.”
The Youth Green Jobs Network, the Green Career Centre’s interactive job board, is on the upswing, with over 600 new members in the last year. Castelino’s advice to the next generation of ecopreneurs is simple but meaningful: work hard and be kind.
“We need more young people passionate about driving forward the solutions we need for a climate-resilient, just and equitable world,” she said. “Being kind is seriously underrated. Just be a good person, and it will get you to where you need to be.”
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