Western’s Alumni Association offers an annual awards program that recognizes alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their professions or communities. The Community Service Award pays tribute to a Western alumnus who has enriched the lives of others through their generous gifts of time and talent in their community.
This year’s award recipient - Dr. Barb Vanderhyden - has made significant contributions to science outreach as the Let’s Talk Science Outreach Director at the University of Ottawa. A committed volunteer and advocate for science outreach, Dr. Vanderhyden’s contributions to the Outreach program have spanned the course of 25 years and have influenced countless youth and educators throughout her community.
“She was instrumental in helping Let’s Talk Science evolve into a national organization by expanding the Let’s Talk Science Outreach program from Western University to the University of Ottawa,” said Dr. Bonnie Schmidt, President and Founder of Let’s Talk Science. “Dr. Vanderhyden is a wonderful champion for outreach and the important role played by undergraduate and graduate students.”
Let’s Talk Science Outreach at the University of Ottawa is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Under Dr. Vanderhyden’s leadership, Carleton University joined forces with the University of Ottawa and collectively, their volunteers and coordinators have reached over 200,000 youth with hands-on activities since its inception, which represents almost 10% of Let’s Talk Science Outreach’s yearly national reach.
A notable aspect of Dr. Vanderhyden’s legacy to the program is her work providing science outreach to Indigenous youth. Outreach trips to Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Northern Ontario and Northern Quebec have had a tremendous impact on the communities involved as well as the volunteers. She also developed the Aboriginal Mentorship Program, which brings indigenous youth on campus and pairs them with volunteer mentors.
Let’s Talk Science thanks Dr. Vanderhyden for her many years of exceptional work with Let’s Talk Science and gives its warmest congratulations on winning this prestigious award. The Western Alumni Association will present her with the award at the Alumni Award of Merit Dinner in June.
To learn more about how you can get involved with Let’s Talk Science Outreach, please visit our webpage.