Alissa Sallans, 2016 Finalist

AGE: 17

Alissa started her environmental journey when she was very young. From acting as an initiator to a leader, she learned she has the power to change the world. Not only does she now volunteer her time to various causes, she has collaborated with and consulted numerous city and global leaders.

When Alissa was just five years old, she discovered she wanted to help save planet Earth. She wanted to change the world. So she asked her friends to march with her to promote “anti-pollution” in the environment. From this experience, she learned she was a leader. She soon became determined to eat only vegetables, avoid the use of plastics, and shop for reused goods whenever possible.

Alissa gained additional insights by volunteering throughout the years, including participation in ecological restoration, community gardening, and street cleanup initiatives. Through gardening projects, she collaborated with municipal, club, and local stakeholders. She has also regularly continued to create her own groups to initiate events, while consulting and coordinating with local governments and other concerned groups.

In the tenth grade, Alissa was keen to change her school and promote climate change mitigation efforts. So she founded the Environmental Council that attracted many other students. Together, they campaigned against plastic water bottles by fundraising successfully for the installation of a new water bottle refill station at school. They also collected signatures on a COP21 flag to support the Paris Climate Talks. Following these initiatives, other schools in the district took notice. One even started a new recycling program!

Alissa Sallans, 2016 Finalist

Passionate about the environment and wanting to know more about the world, Alissa recently went on an Antarctic expedition with ninety-nine youths from across the globe, as well as other educators and scientists, organized by Students on Ice. She saw how fragile the polar environment can be and how this fragility reflects both climate change and the human world. This further motivated her to teach others. And so, back at home, she gave presentations on her unique experiences in the Arctic to both youth and adults, teaching the important value that everyone should think about the environment. She quoted Dr. Seuss in every presentation, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Inspired by Alissa’s determination, others have increasingly been motivated to request her presentations.

Alissa is a born leader. But even being just a high school student, Alissa knows that if one wants to truly succeed, everyone must work hard together to accomplish a greater goal. Alissa also takes the initiative to talk to and learn from major environmentalists such as Simon Jackson, Adria Vasil, and Rob Stewart. She always challenges herself to identify and overcome difficulties. She is a young warrior who fights limitations and has endless dreams to accomplish


  • Alissa is currently working on establishing the first-ever Durham Youth Sustainability Conference to unite high school students in her area to gain environmental sustainability awareness through various conference-style activities, such as keynote presentations and workshops.

  • In December 2014, she went on an expedition to Antarctica with Students on Ice, an organization dedicated to environmental youth empowerment. She was one of the 100 youths aged 13-18 to be chosen from across the globe.

  • Her volunteer experience includes working as an EcoMentor with Earth Day Canada, a delegate for Ontario Nature Youth Summit, and the Youth Lead on the Blue Dot Whitby with the David Suzuki Foundation, to name a few.

Support The Starfish Canada's Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 program and help these environmental champions get the recognition they deserve.

Contribute now