The YCP program takes place over the course of one calendar year and requires a total on-site time commitment of approximately 14 days, including:

  • Three three-day (two night) residential retreats: March 6-8, May 29 – 31, and October 23 -25, focused on personal and professional leadership development;
  • A minimum of four (out of up to six) one-day workshops throughout the year focused on key management skills,
  • Program graduation at the A. D. Latornell Conservation Symposium.

Young Conservation Professionals workshop


Three three-day (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) 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.

Key themes, outcomes, and assignments include:

Retreat 1: March (Winter) Leader as Learner
Themes: What is leadership?, self-assessment, Sharpening the saw
Outcomes: 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.
Assignments: Personal and Professional Visioning, Coffee-break Challenge

Retreat 2: June (Spring/Summer) Leader as Partner
Themes: Situational Leadership, collaboration and partnership
Outcomes: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;
Assignments: Organizational Challenge

Retreat 3: October (Fall) Leader as Catalyst
Themes: Mapping the Future, Goal Setting
Outcomes: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.
Assignments: Leadership Plan of Action

Albion Hills Field Centre, overlooking the Albion Hills Conservation Area and nestled within the Humber Watershed, provides an ideal setting for each retreat, which include group-building activities, self-assessment, instructional sessions on leadership, peer learning, action-reflection learning, learning in small groups, journal-writing, coaching, and learning rooted in individual and group projects. Each retreat closes with goal setting and take-home exercises to help participants put their learning to practice in their workplaces and their everyday lives.


Up to six full-day training workshops are offered between the residential events, from which participants select and attend at least four. Workshops teach the basics of practical, management-related skills such as facilitation, conflict resolution, communication and public speaking, proposal development, budgeting, financial management, fundraising, policy development, and collaboration. Workshops are held at locations in the Greater Toronto Area with host organizations such as the Sustainability Network.

Participants who successfully complete the program graduate each November at the A. D. Latornell Conservation Symposium. The ceremony is held during the Symposium’s closing luncheon in front of conference delegates who include leaders from conservation and environmental organizations across Ontario.

Certificate of Participation
The Young Conservation Professionals Leadership Program is a Continuing Education Program offered through the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and the University of Guelph. A Certificate of Participation is awarded upon successful completion of the program.