This article is part of our Youth Voices series. At Ten Strands we believe that young people have valuable perspectives and a critical role in shaping our society and our world. We recognize their power to drive dialogue and create positive change and are committed to providing a platform which amplifies their contributions.
What does it mean to be a youth climate leader, and why is it important?
A youth climate leader is someone who cares about the climate crisis, the environment, and social justice and who takes the initiative to try to solve those problems. Realistically, no one expects any single actions by youth climate leaders to solve these problems, especially on a global scale. But small, local actions by individuals or groups can inspire people and lead to national or global actions, and it is that ripple effect of actions that will solve the problems we face today.
What was your experience during your internship with Williams College?
I really enjoyed my Ten Strands internship. Getting to work with professionals in the environmental education sector and gaining insight into how the professional world operates was a valuable experience. I also now have a somewhat clearer picture of what I do (and do not) want for my future education and career. I am extremely grateful for the donors of the Thomas Black Fund from the Center for Environmental Studies grant program at Williams College that allowed me this opportunity.
In what ways do you hope your internship made an impact?
I hope I was able to inspire other youth to take action, not just on climate change but on whatever they are passionate about. I am staying with the California Youth Climate Policy (CYCP) Leadership Program as a mentor, so I hope to continue empowering students and educating them.
Do you plan on pursuing environmentalism as a career?
Although I’m not entirely sure what I want to pursue as a career, I am certain that I will be working in an environment-related field. I really enjoyed the data analysis and report writing projects, so maybe I will become an environmental data analyst. However, I am also passionate about social justice and the intersection of social justice with environmental issues, so I may end up working for an environmental/climate justice organization.
What advice would you give to young and aspiring climate leaders?
I would tell young and aspiring climate leaders that it is okay to take a break, to acknowledge your “negative” emotions, and to ask for help. This is hard, and these feelings are real and expected when dealing with such a daunting challenge. But there are millions of youth across the world that are fighting this same fight and lots of adults that are willing to help. So please don’t be afraid to ask for help or feel like you need to save the world all by yourself. Because that will only exacerbate your burnout and make the climate crisis seem more hopeless.