Environmental literacy equips students with the knowledge and skills to lead a more sustainable future. While the California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI) helps foster these educational opportunities, we learn from students more than we teach them. Young people across California are serving as the model for leading environmental action. As we continue to see the impacts of climate change escalate, these young people are embracing their power to change the future with innovative, hands-on projects.
This month, we interviewed youth leaders in Alameda, Orange, and Santa Cruz Counties who are transforming their communities. We heard their unique perspectives via Zoom interviews, including their experiences with education, their lessons learned from leading environmental work, and their advice for adults.
Check out the links below to learn more about their work:
- Aniya Butler works with Youth Vs. Apocalypse, a youth climate action group uplifting the voices of people of color and standing up for environmental justice. She’s helped to organize climate strikes with tens of thousands of attendees. Click here to watch or read Aniya’s Q&A.
- Marlize Velasco started an environmental club at her high school. Now she works with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s Youth for Environmental Action (YEA) group to connect with other students via social media and teach sustainable household practices. Click here to watch or read Marlize’s Q&A.
- Seth Whiteaker founded a Garden Club at his school, which now cultivates a native garden on campus alongside other student organizations, dubbed the “Ecollective.” Click here to watch or read Seth’s Q&A.
- Rowyn Cook works with the YEA to promote sustainability ideas on social media and organize a climate conference. Click here to watch or read Rowyn’s Q&A.
- Isaac Wallace-Menge has spent years volunteering and researching for environmental conservation organizations. Now as a high school graduate, he’s on his way to volunteer at an organic farm in Hawaii. Click here to watch or read Issac’s Q&A.
We’re also proud to display the work of Azucena Nieto, a youth artist and activist who also works with YEA. Her powerful creative writing pieces (pictured below) represent the interconnectedness of nature and our responsibility to carry on the intergenerational fight for environmental conservation.