Student Environmental Leaders initiated solutions to reduce carbon footprints

Listen to the Session:

      1. http://www.sej.org/sites/default/files/webform/conf11/CS1POLLUTION.mp3

Five high school and college students from different parts of the country came to the Society of Environmental Journalists conference Saturday morning to discuss solutions they have used to reduce the their carbon footprints in the world.

Lynne Cherry, producer and director for Young Voices for the Planet, said, youth can make a significant contribution.

“There is a lot environmental problems in the world today, some young people feel overwhelmed by them, but others realize that they have power to make change,” she stated.

Larissa Weinstein and Maddi Cowen from Coral Gables High School started an energy audit while they were at Carver Middle School in Miami and helped the school save more than $53,000.

Cowen and Weinstein engaged students at their school to practice power saving by visiting each classroom to educate and discuss about the issue. They created a Giving Green curriculum and distributed it through elementary, middle and high school.

“All the presentation we had to put to together to give to the Miami International Airport or to the school board, that was all student done,” said Cowen.

Weinstein mentioned that they also planted a butterfly garden at their middle school, which inspired students to become environmentally involved as well.

Sean Russell, from Sarasota, said he became concerned about dolphins and other marine life being tangled by fishing lines that are dumped into the ocean.

Having participated in many marine summer camps, Russell discovered the how endangered dolphins were through the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota. “One of the things they have seen was an increase in negative human/ dolphin interactions in the area around Sarasota County. They saw an unsustainable death rate,” he said.

He created a program called “Stow it, don’t throw it” to initiate anglers to recycle their fishing lines instead of dumping them into the ocean. He began by recycling tennis ball containers turned them into bins to store the fishing lines after their use.

Russell’s project has expanded to 17 counties in Florida.

Jordan Howard, from Santa Monica College and on the board of Green Ambassador Institute, participated several of programs to tackle the issue of recycling plastics.

Attended a green charter high school, Howard gained a lot of inspiration to start making a impact in the environment. She feels environment education is crucial to begin a steady green movement.

“That’s what the green movement lacked, at least in my community, from where I come from, there was no environment education,” said Howard on environmental education.

She created a program that is similar to Surfriders’ “Rise Above Plastics” program. Within this program, adult go to college students to inform them on their reduction of plastic use.  Howard took the initiative to create a youth “Rise Above Plastics” program to educate high, middle and elementary students on plastics.

Howard also edited the book “Green My Parents” that teaches kids from ages nine to sixteen on how to convert parents to make green choices and save money.

“I’m very supportive of green schools and green education,” said Howard. “We have to educate people.”

Erich Christian, from Gainesville, started a biodiesel facility on his high school campus in 2009. Initially he received a lot of friction because it was illegal in Florida. Christian advocated his ideals to the Florida legislation to pass laws to legalize the recycling and the creation biodiesel. Today in his community, restaurants and students donate cooking oil to turn it into biodiesel.

Cherry concluded the session with a message to the audience of students and adults, “Everyone one of you can make a huge difference in the world.”


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