Young Conservation Professionals Leadership Program


The Young Conservation Professionals (YCP) Leadership Program is a year-long personal and professional development program serving the conservation and environmental sector in Ontario.

The purpose of the YCP Leadership Program is to build capacity in the conservation sector by helping the next generation of leaders to step up.

Program participants will gain:

  • Increased knowledge and understanding of leadership and management practice
  • Deepened understanding of individual leadership styles and innate strengths as managers and leaders
  • Improved interpersonal communication skills
  • Improved ability to set effective, outcome-focused goals
  • Enhanced confidence to lead in both personal and professional contexts
  • Increased motivation and ability to manage teams and complex projects

Launched in 2005, the YCP Leadership Program has a network of more than 220 alumni across the province and beyond.

Young Conservation Professionals program alumni


The Young Conservation Professionals Leadership Program takes place over the course of one calendar year and requires a total on-site time commitment of approximately 14 days. This includes:

  • Three residential retreats (three days, two nights) focused on personal and professional leadership development
  • A minimum of four (maximum of six) one-day workshops throughout the year focused on key management skills
  • Program graduation at the Latornell Conservation Symposium



Three residential retreats are the core of YCP Leadership Program. Participants are immersed in a collaborative professional learning environment focused on a theme, with individual, small group and whole-group activities and projects.

Residential retreats take place at Albion Hills Field Centre in Caledon, Ontario.

Young Conservation Professionals residential retreat at Albion Hills Field Centre

Retreat activities include:

  • Group-building exercises
  • Self-assessment
  • Instructional sessions on leadership
  • Peer learning
  • Action-reflection learning

  • Learning in small groups
  • Journal-writing
  • Coaching
  • Learning rooted in individual and group projects

Each retreat closes with goal-setting and take-home exercises designed to help participants apply their learning both in the workplace and in everyday life.


Retreat 1: (Winter) Leader as Learner
March 11–13, 2020


  • What is leadership?
  • Self-assessment
  • Sharpening the saw


  • Increased understanding of individual leadership style(s) and innate strengths
  • Enhanced ability to practice deliberate, ongoing self-assessment
  • Increased knowledge and understanding of leadership and management practice


  • Personal and Professional Visioning
  • Coffee-break Challenge

Young Conservation Professionals program participants at winter retreat


Retreat 2: (Spring/Summer) Leader as Partner
May 27–29, 2020


  • Situational leadership
  • Collaboration and partnership


  • Increased knowledge of practical techniques for leading through partnership
  • Enhanced ability to plan projects and appreciation of the connections between vision, goals, action and context
  • Improved interpersonal communication skills


  • Organizational challenge

Young Conservation Professionals leadership program summer retreat at Albion Hills Field Centre


Retreat 3: (Fall) Leader as Catalyst
October 28–30, 2020


  • Mapping the future
  • Goal setting


  • Improved ability to set effective, outcome-focused goals
  • Enhanced confidence to lead in both personal and professional contexts
  • Increased motivation and ability to manage teams and complex projects


  • Leadership plan of action

Young Conservation Professionals leadership program fall retreat at Albion Hills Field Centre


Albion Hills Field Centre is a spacious, welcoming, chalet-style building of cedar and granite, located in Albion Hills Conservation Park in Caledon, Ontario.

The landscape of Albion Hill lies within the Humber Headwaters region, part of the environmentally significant Oak Ridges Moraine.

YCP participants will stay in climate-controlled dormitories with newly renovated washrooms and shared rooms with bunk beds.

Albion Hills has a fully staffed commercial kitchen offering home-style meals, with alternatives for almost all dietary restrictions.




The Young Conservation Professionals Leadership Program offers up to six full-day training workshops; participants are required to attend at least four.

The workshops teach the basics of practical, management-related skills, including:

  • Facilitation
  • Conflict resolution
  • Proposal development
  • Budgeting
  • Financial management

  • Fundraising
  • Policy development
  • Collaboration
  • Communication and public speaking

Workshops are held at locations in the Greater Toronto Area, with the support of host organizations such as the University of Guelph.

Young Conservation Professionals program workshop




YCP Leadership Program graduation takes place in November at the Latornell Conservation Symposium. The ceremony is held during the Symposium’s closing luncheon, attended by leaders of conservation and environmental organizations from across Ontario.


Certificate of Participation

The Young Conservation Professionals Leadership Program is a continuing education program offered through Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and University of Guelph. A Certificate of Participation is awarded upon successful completion of the program.



The Young Conservation Professionals Leadership Program accepts a maximum of 25 participants each year.

Young Conservation Professionals program participants complete outdoor assignment



Interested applicants are required to meet the following eligibility criteria. (PLEASE NOTE: Meeting the criteria does not necessarily guarantee acceptance into the program.)

  • At least two years of full-time employment in land and water conservation, the environment or a related field following completion of a college diploma or undergraduate degree
  • A staff position at a government, non-profit or private sector organization in Ontario
  • Written approval and confirmed support of supervisor/manager
  • Commitment to invest the required time (approximately 14 days over the course of the year, plus time for reading and assignments)
  • Payment of the registration fee ($795 for non-profit, $1,495.00 for private sector and government, including conservation authorities) at the first overnight retreat in March

We have funding to support participation in this program for participants who identify as Indigenous persons and live or work in Peel Region. Please contact for additional information.


Application Process

Applications for YCP 2020 are now being accepted. To apply, please send a current resume and a 500 word description of why you would like to be part of the YCP Program to Applications are due by February 1, 2020. 


We welcome correspondence from alumni, managers, prospective participants, and other friends and supporters of the program.

Please direct all application documents and correspondence to:

We look forward to hearing from you!

Young Conservation Professionals Leadership program participants walk trail at Albion Hills Field Centre


Thank You to Our Funders and Supporters:

A.D. Latornell Endowment Fund
University of Guelph | Latornell Conservation Symposium