summer students maintaining the parks

Want to thank an Ontario Parks summer student? Here’s how!

The summer student workforce is the life-blood of the Ontario Parks summer operating season. Our provincial parks simply could not operate without these student workers.

Ontario Parks is the largest employer of students in the Ontario Public Service; up to 2,000 students each summer!

2 summer students cleaning parksThey deliver exceptional customer service, and contribute to all facets of park operations including:

  • maintenance
  • natural heritage education
  • office administration
  • front gate service

Our students help ensure that each of the 9 million visits to Ontario Parks is an enjoyable one.

Appropriately, there is a program in place that recognizes the hard work of our students.

The Ontario Parks Partners Bursary program was established in 2000 by several Ontario Parks corporate partners to recognize students who demonstrate high levels of initiative, customer service, leadership, and an overall dedication to the Ontario Parks system.

Up to 40 bursaries of $500 each are awarded each year to deserving students.

2014 bursary winners

Here are the stories of two outstanding students honoured with a bursary last year:

Samantha’s story:

Bursary winner Samantha McIsaac from Orillia worked at McRae Point Provincial Park for the past five summers. Over the years, Sam took on an increasingly significant leadership role in helping out newer summer staff learn the ropes, taking a great weight off her supervisors. Her ability to identify tasks and effectively organize staff speaks to her teamwork skills and her dedication to the park, and park visitors. Her attention to detail while cutting the park’s grass is noteworthy, considering McRae Point has the greatest lawn area of any provincial park!

Samantha receiving her award
Ontario Parks Director Bradley Fauteux, summer student Samantha McIsaac, and MNRF Assistant Deputy Minister Tracey Mill

During her years at the park, Samantha worked toward her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Science at McMaster University: “My experiences working at McCrae Point have helped me develop a sense of responsibility, teamwork, and leadership. I am especially thankful for these skills as they will translate well into my career as a nurse.”

Justin’s story

The Amber Booth Award carries special recognition within the program for bursary recipients whose efforts stand out in the areas of health, safety and wellness. Last year’s winner, Justin Jordens of Dryden, went above and beyond when he attended to a camper suffering a heart attack at Blue Lake Provincial Park.

Justin receiving his award
Justin — supported by his family — receiving the Amber Booth award from Ontario Parks Director Bradley Fauteux, Assistant Deputy Minister Tracey Mill and Blue Lake Superintendent Scott Ellery

Upon hearing the emergency call on his park radio, Justin immediately took on a leadership role, collecting the park’s portable defibrillator and rushing to the scene. Despite having only been trained on how to use the machine a few weeks earlier, Justin quickly put his knowledge to use, in a calm and confident manner. He not only displayed an extraordinary ability to address the situation, he also demonstrated leadership and compassion rarely seen in an 18-year-old high school student.

Big thanks to our partners

The bursary program is completely funded by Ontario Parks corporate partners. Ontario Parks is pleased to work in partnership with private sector companies who share our commitment to youth and to the protection of Ontario’s natural resources. Thanks to our 2014 partners:

Want to nominate a student?

Gate student at DriftwoodPP Bursary nominees must be Ontario residents and returning to secondary or post-secondary school. Nominees may be an employee of Ontario Parks, the Stewardship Youth Rangers program, “Friends” organization or other park volunteer group working within a provincial park.

So if you have a great vacation at a provincial park this summer, think about how your stay was enriched by the multitude of students who work like busy bees to make the park a welcoming environment for visitors.

Bursary nomination forms are available at all Ontario Parks offices and are due by the Labour Day weekend.