We are the Future: The Importance of Youth Leaders in Environmental ActivismMay 18, 2023
By Sarah Robison, 2023 Future Blue Youth Council member
Featured Image: “Call to Action” by Red Whelan (Philadelphia, PA)
To become a youth leader in environmental activism is to embrace your unique voice and advocate for our planet, and take an important step in preserving our natural resources for future generations. Generations Z and Alpha have the ability to make a large impact on slowing climate change by taking a stand for environmental justice, advocating for countless endangered species, and working to create an overall greener world. We are the next wave of environmental heroes with the influence to create the change we wish to see in the world!
There are many ways to embrace your role in environmental advocacy. You could raise awareness about environmental issues by sharing educational posters at your school or place of work and take hands-on action in your community by helping out at a beach clean-up. You can look into internship programs available at local colleges or universities, volunteer opportunities at zoos and aquariums, and careers in oceanography and wildlife conservation to continue your involvement into adulthood. You can also start your own environmental project to directly combat a local issue. No matter your physical location or personal background, youth have enormous potential to create positive change by taking impactful actions.
Want to become an empowered environmental steward? Work towards understanding your own environmental impact so you can make changes and lead by example. Whether that means bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery store to use fewer single-use plastics, electing to carpool to reduce your carbon footprint, eating less red meat, or simply taking shorter showers to conserve water, small actions can lead to big strides in your activism journey.
Next, consider doing research on environmental topics you’re particularly interested in. By understanding these issues, you can effectively share your knowledge with others. Talking to your friends and classmates about global issues like climate change, ocean pollution, and deforestation is a great way to spark awareness. You can even connect the environment to other important issues like world hunger and promoting equity to ignite genuine interest. Check out this blog written by Future Blue Youth Council member Dhruv Bhatt to learn about the connection between child rights and the climate crisis. Without education, proper actions cannot be taken to effectively help protect our natural resources. By first teaching others about the issues facing our planet, you can present clear solutions and how others play a role in achieving environmental goals.
A great next step on your journey in environmental advocacy is to join clubs or organizations in your school or community that uphold your values and share your advocacy vision. By sharing your passion and collaborating with others, you’re helping to build a strong community of activists! If there are no opportunities near you, you can always create your own group. I started an organization myself, the CARE Club – a virtual environmental club inclusive to all young activists in both high school and college worldwide. The CARE Club’s mission is to foster a welcoming environment while educating members about important environmental topics, with the goal of taking group action towards real-world solutions. If you would like to join us, please visit our sign-up form. It’s a great place to begin your journey or continue on your path in environmental activism!
Keep up-to-date on current environmental struggles, and celebrate successes, to understand where your actions are most needed. Whether that be signing your name on a local petition or joining a march for climate justice, being aware of current events and using your powerful voice to advocate for your environmental interests is a key component of being a youth leader.
Thus far, my journey in environmental activism has been enormously rewarding and truly gratifying. In the CARE Club, we’ve raised hundreds of dollars to contribute to the continued rescue of homeless pets in the United States and support the preservation of rainforests and security of indigenous peoples in climate solidarity. We’ve also created petitions, contacted large corporations, and utilized social media to promote our overall message of empowered environmental protection. I’ve become involved both locally, in community projects such as beach clean-ups and environmental awareness events, and internationally, serving on the Future Blue Youth Council and continuing the legacy of the CARE Club, to inspire action and take my own steps toward creating a greener future for our planet. Leading by example and working with groups of diverse individuals, youth leaders can become energized and inspired to create positive change on any scale you choose.
Young generations have an unmatched commitment to pursuing their aspirations and working toward making a difference in the lives of others; this is critical to achieving personal success as a youth activist and advocating for our natural world. As young environmental activists, we have a say in how the world in which we live is treated. Our voice is a powerful tool for protecting our planet. We can make a difference that extends beyond the classroom or workplace to reach and affect all parts of our planet. By taking on the role of a youth leader in environmental activism, you’re paving the way for a brighter future and creating a legacy that’ll inspire future generations to follow in your footsteps. By working together, we can make a tremendous difference.
Will you join the movement?