Ashley Liu

Senior, University High School, Irvine, CA

PGC PORTFOLIO VIDEO

Ashley is a senior at University High School who has a deep passion for the environment and sustainability. As someone who grew up in the bright and sunny Southern California, she has experienced long periods of drought and scorching hot summers. As she began to notice how much the place she is living in and the world around her is affected by climate change, she knew climate change was a global issue she had to be serious about. For the past two years, she has been involved in environmental stewardship both at a local plant nursery and at her school. She has coordinated an on-campus planting project where she led over 30 volunteers in planting nearly 100 plants in an effort to make the campus a greener space. Outside of school, she enjoys constantly finding ways to live sustainably and become a better person everyday — from bringing my own reusable water bottles, to educating herself, and trying new things like Project Green Challenge!

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

Valuable, Unique, Unforgettable, Inspirational, Powerful

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“Before October 1st, I admit that I was scared of taking challenges, even the Project Green Challenge. At the time, I was skeptical about how an individual like me can take action to mitigate climate change. What made me dive into the challenge, however, was the strong passion I had for climate change and the environment. The Why challenge helped me find my purpose in doing PGC: to prove that change is possible and to be part of a meaningful community. Ever since, I have been waking up every morning feeling excited to do the next challenge. Throughout the month, there were multiple times when some challenges felt difficult to the point where I wanted to quit because I was sacrificing my study and homework test. However, the fact that I continued to work on the challenges, spending hours upon hours (sometimes even up to 2 am in the morning), was a testament to how dedicated I felt towards this challenge. Before PGC, I would give up easily during times of difficulties and stop pursuing. This time, however, I learned to go beyond my limits and to stay persistent even during stressful days. I realized that I could harness the passion and strength inside me to nurture persistence.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“The most memorable aspect of the PGC was the interaction with other students. Without the people, my experience would not have been the same. Knowing that there are other people in other parts of the world who also have the same passion as I do and have dedicated time to do something they are passionate about fascinated me. I would enjoy the process of looking at other students’ creative posts and being engaged with them because I understand how meaningful and valuable it is to form relationships with those who share the same values and visions as I do. The interactions and the friendships I’ve made with other students made the who turned the PGC community into a family in which I feel comfortable expressing myself in and being the best I can be. 

In Day 14 Greener, participants were challenged to design a menu incorporating FLOSN ingredients. After seeing one of the students’ posts on avocado creamy pasta, I immediately reached out and asked them for the recipe. When I made my dinner menu based on the recipe the student gave me and posted it on Instagram, the student commented on how we are bonding together thanks to PGC. That was a truly special comment because even though I do not know who the student is exactly, I was inspired by the relationship I was able to build through doing something both the student and I were passionate about.”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“To begin with, I will find ways to move my Earth Overshoot Day to a later date and to decrease the number of Earths it takes to support my lifestyle (based on Day 2 Footprint). From what I learned in Day 14 Meatless Monday, Day 4 Organic, and Day 5 Food, making sustainable plant-based choices is a great way to reduce carbon footprint and to make a change as an individual. I will also pay more attention to the health of my body and wellness because without as PGC said in Day 19 Wellness, “to care for the planet, you must first care for yourself.” Spending moments of appreciation through mindful breathing and mindful eating are very helpful in keeping my mind calm and focused. Last but not least, I see myself as someone who will continue to inspire more people. As I continue to be a changemaker, I want to use all the wisdom and knowledge I accumulated throughout this month to empower more people to take action. To accomplish that goal, I will continue to use social media as a platform to spread awareness and continue to design campaigns or posters to put up around the school in order to raise awareness. I will also continue to find ways to advocate for causes I am deeply passionate about such as climate and social justice. In the end, similar to the baby step I took for this PGC challenge, even if inspiring someone else means simply making them more aware of an issue, then I will be proud of what I have accomplished.”

Cvetanka Rizvanovic

Senior, Highland High School, Salt Lake City, UT

PGC PORTFOLIO VIDEO

Cvetanka is a senior at Highland High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. She comes from a Bosnian household and is multilingual. In her spare time, she loves to hike, spend time with her family, and paint. She has been very passionate about environmental sustainability, even throughout her childhood. In order to get involved and lead a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, she has been an active participant in Project Green Challenge for the past four years, which has been a wonderful opportunity for her to take action within her community as well as gain leadership experience.

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

Inspiring, Transformative, Eye-opening, Educational, Innovative

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“Throughout my involvement in PGC, I’ve gained many skills and developed my understanding of various topics. Prior to my experience, I wasn’t as conscious of my lifestyle choices as I am now and definitely wasn’t as informed on many of the daily themes. After learning about each topic, I have accumulated knowledge that is applicable in my day to day life and is a tool that I can use to educate others on the significance of environmental sustainability. Consequently, this journey has shaped me into a more mindful and knowledgeable individual. Through extensive passion-driven research, I have become more aware of environmental issues. The processes PGC encourages have enabled me to construct as well as evaluate unique and viable solutions to these problems. Furthermore, this opportunity has allowed me to expand on developing my critical thinking skills, therefore improving my qualifications as an effective leader.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“The aspect of PGC that I found the most memorable was definitely participating in challenges that required becoming involved in my local community. I enjoyed including my peers in the challenges, specifically when I was beginning to implement my climate action project. Having my friends collaborate with me throughout the process and seeing them take environmental initiative was encouraging and gratifying as a leader. Their enthusiastic participation proved to me that my hard work had amounted to a viable movement with a cause. Above all, my sustainability project especially stood out to me because the overall experience served as an opportunity for me to demonstrate and effectively apply the knowledge, leadership, and communication skills I had gained from PGC.”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“In order to initiate change within my community, I will be applying the information and skills I’ve gained throughout the PGC experience to my standards of living. I aim to implement the core values of healthy eating habits, regenerative agricultural practices, as well as habitat and resource conservation as a foundation for establishing environmental awareness. Through coordinating and actively participating in campaigns that revolve around these principles, I can gain an even better understanding and appreciation for environmental stewardship. Consequently, this involvement will create an opportunity for individuals in terms of conscious living, specifically finding solutions to environmental issues and becoming more knowledgeable on valuable elements of saving the Earth. In order to be a changemaker, I hope to effect change through green leadership.”

Emeline Myung

Junior, Los Osos High School, Ontario, CA

PORTFOLIOVIDEO

Emeline is a junior at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Her favorite subject is currently a class she unfortunately not taking: environmental science. However, she’s a lover of all sciences, and most importantly, a lover of the planet and all the systems and organisms that thrive because of it, and on it. While she has always loved Mother Earth, she never fully realized the human-induced damage inflicted upon it and the crisis we face because of our actions until she was assigned a TED Talk project last year. After months of research on climate change and plastic pollution, she was highly alarmed about the precarious position our future held. With this knowledge, she decided to pursue a path of climate action to protect the planet and all organisms that she loves (which led her to PGC!).

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

eye-opening, impact, motivational, educational, life-changer

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“Looking back, I can say I have become less naive, and more vocal and driven about climate action. After months of research on plastic pollution and how climate change affects the ocean, I thought I was fully aware of climate change and its consequences. However, I could not have been more wrong. Each day I consistently learned new facets of the climate crisis, and often discovered completely new themes that I was not aware of, such as the scale of the social injustices faced by many across the world (this is where the naiveness came into play). With new information absorbed daily, I became increasingly alarmed about the state of environment and increasingly frustrated with the inaction I saw both in my community and country. Project Green Challenge however, taught me that I can initiate change in small steps to help secure a sustainable future. Now, instead of stewing in frustration, I can, and am motivated to become a positive force in my community, even if it means stepping out of my comfort zone  to simply talk to others in order to spread awareness. I’ve learned that I, even as one person, can have an impact on my peers on a scale that I never thought possible.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“It’s going to sound cliche, but in all honesty, I would say the journey was the most memorable aspect of the Project Green Challenge. The journey consisted of whole new learning experiences, challenges that revitalized the way I lived by life and my choices, and impacted my school in a way I never have  dreamed to achieve. Being able to look back on the short month of PGC and being able to easily see how I’ve developed into a proud activist, being able to clearly identify all the changes I’ve made at home, and being able to document the impact I had on my peers is truly an experience I’ll never forget, but also will continue to practice. The challenges of PGC allowed me to see the successes of my actions whenever I shared knowledge or a presentation with a friend and received a positive reaction and willingness to change in return! It was also memorable to make changes at home, where I could open a dialogue with my parents to make changes in our lifestyle. Then, meeting like-minded people and other activists at my school and at a rally due to PGC forged strong bonds. Being encouraged to initiate change throughout PGC was truly incredible, and unforgettable.”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“I will continue to follow, and learn by the themes of PGC, as well as apply all I’ve learned! I think in the mindset of “think globally, act locally”, and I will apply that idea to implement all the knowledge I’ve gained through this life-changing experience of PGC. With the global crisis in mind, I will work in my community first, to spread awareness about the climate crisis, and with the upcoming elections, I will encourage those who can vote to look into candidates who have plans to help solve and reverse human-induced damage. With the oppressed communities and minorities in mind, I will work to raise awareness about sweatshops, and social injustices and produce a solution or practice that I, and others can follow to eradicate the inequalities. Using the power of education and knowledge, I will work to inform my peers, my campus, my district, and then people across the nation and the world. With  the spread of awareness, I will give challenges of my own, so that those who are now aware of the crisis all facets of world face can take action.”

Josephine Sparks

Junior, Bloomington High School South, Bloomington, IN

PGC PORTFOLIO VIDEO

Josie is a junior at Bloomington High School South. Born and raised in the Midwestern town of Bloomington, IN, she grew up on the lake at the Lake Monroe Youth Sailing Camp where she now work as a Certified Instructor, spent weeks in the woods at the McCormick’s Creek girl scout camp, and went to Bradford woods every summer for their kids Environmental Explorers program. She was a competitive gymnast for 8 years and has played viola for 6. She is a part of the Hoosier Youth Philharmonic and work in the St. Mark’s Nursery, taking care of the infants during services and meetings. She loves writing, especially poetry, and have been trying to find a field she is interested in to pair with my hobby as a career. Photography, stained glass, and orchestra are her favorite classes, and having a career in the arts is her ultimate dream.

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

Momentous. metamorphic, enriching, enlightening, strenuous

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“I have always known that if I commit to something, I can’t let it go. PGC has just solidified that for me. There were days that I was tired, researching and writing and brainstorming at 2 in the morning, but I found that I didn’t care. There is a quote by Simon Sinek, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress, working hard for something we care about is called passion.”, and I think that that encompasses my thoughts around the challenge. I loved the way PGC challenged me to commit to a goal that I knew nothing about, and it made me realize that these issues are something that I have a passion for, truly care about, and want to pursue past the end of the challenge. I would stay up all night if I didn’t have to sleep if it meant I could make progress on any one of the issues that PGC focused on. I have learned that I had a hidden passion that could be my career, that these issues are so much more complex than I perceived them to be, and that I can meet standards higher than those I set for myself. I have gained an immense amount of confidence on these subjects, and I feel like I am a new person that sees the world differently.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“Committing to PGC every day meant committing to spontaneity and interaction with my community. One day in particular, we went on a field trip for our APES class and were together when the challenge went live. It was the fashion get together. In twenty minutes, we had a plan to get together, bring snacks and drinks, watch the doc and have a discussion, and hang out afterwards. People I would never have put together wanted to come, and we had a party! The discussion that followed was amazing, and I would have never had it without the challenge prompt. Everyday I would text home what I needed to buy, what we needed to make or cook or draw, and my parents would change our schedule to accommodate that. Those were the most memorable moments for me, the moments where my whole day changed because I had something important to do! To some, that is stressful, but to me, it gave my day the interesting zing I needed to be productive and encouraged to work hard. I am not introverted, but not extroverted either, so being pushed to go out into my community was a very memorable experience because I don’t do it very often. Speaking in front of the school board, meeting with some of their members, and visiting the elementary school garden were three amazing experiences I would not have had without being challenged, and those were the most memorable moments.”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“I believe the best way to be a change-maker is to adopt a new idea and stick with it, however crazy it seems. You have to be willing to be bold and confident to put trust in the idea that you have the opportunity to be successful. I want to follow through with my action plan. Emails have already been sent out, messages have been written, our team is in place, and we have so many idea of what we each individually want to put into this project that there will be no waiting. Starting next trimester, I am going to be looking for a semi-permanent location for a club to meet and we will start with our own projects so we have examples for newcomers when we are more stable. We will be spending hours brainstorming, I am truly excited to get started on this project. Ultimately, the people participating now will be changing legislation in our county or country in the future. That thought is insane. I want to help it happen, and I intend to. Outside of the Climate Action Plan, I will be joining and possibly helping co-run our environmental club Sage within the next year, keeping them in close alignment with the non-profit so they have more freedom of choice on project ideas. I will also be decorating my room soon. I have been thinking of starting a YouTube channel about the non-profit, and might add in tips for how to make your room or space affordably Eco-friendly, how to cook cheap organic, and how to shop fair trade, all things I learned I had an affinity for through PGC! Maybe on the side I will attend protests and rallies, I always love a good change-making march. I have so many ideas!”

Julia Leonard

Senior, Champlain College, Burlington, VT

PGC PORTFOLIO VIDEO

Julia is a senior at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, studying Broadcast Media Production and Motion Graphics. She grew up in Exeter, New Hampshire and is a sucker for fall foliage. She loves hiking, mangoes, bucket hats, and secondhand stores. She feels incredibly grateful to have completed PGC 2019 and has learned so much!

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

Creating confidence and impactful outreach

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“The amount that I changed is considerable, although gradual. Day one I wasn’t even going to go through with the challenge because it required posting a video on Facebook and explaining why I was doing the challenge. Not only did I not know why, but I didn’t even know if I actually wanted to. That first step was the catalyst for everything to come. Each challenge pushed me a little more into seeing how to interact with the world but also how I am able to interact with it to instill change. Confidence is key. I’ve gained not only that, but I’ve learned I am powerful! I desire to seek out change, compassion and education. My voice is a tool and a gift and I finally see how I can use it.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“One part of PGC that stood out to me was just about a week ago. I had been making those infographic calligraphy drawings for a little bit and posting on social media a lot more than I ever had before. I opened Instagram a bit after posting another story and I had a message from my sister’s best friend from high school, Ann. Ann shared a message from a friend asking her “Do you know any environmental people? I have a question about plastic.” She reached out to me after seeing my posts for answers to his questions. I was not only the first person she reached out to, but I was able to answer his questions in an educated and thoughtful way. They were both super appreciative and I was shocked. It was when I realized I had the tools! I could make change by doing things I loved like calligraphy and video!”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“Putting this new wisdom to work takes two different (but very predictable focuses): Changing within and Changing what’s around. The first step is challenging, but not as hard as the second. New practices have become habits and some changes are still a work in progress. Now that I know where I can improve my life, I will be taking those steps to vote with my dollar, reduce my waste, and continue to increase my confidence. This leads to changing what’s around. Yes, I have the climate action progress in place, but I also started a side project that I feel very passionately about. Reducing waste during Orientation and special events on campus is my way of building a more sustainable world and showing people how it can be done.I was led to this path by others and now I will lead by example.”

Kaleb Cuda

Senior, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

PGC PORTFOLIO VIDEO

Kaleb is from Stevens Point, Wisconsin and currently attend the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. He likes writing and being a very social person. He believes keeping an open mindset on ideas and beliefs is the best way to implement change and get the best out of life. He is a huge pusher on staying true to yourself and having the best life in which the one you play the main character.

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

Motivational, Encouraging, Experiential, Life-Changing, Fun

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“Pre-PGC I was definitely a person just trying to get by with my degree and trying to figure out what is best for me. I was someone that wasn’t really motivated to graduate because I lost passion in my major. Throughout PGC it is the one time in the year I feel most myself. The competitive learning experience of it all sets me into a stage of relaxation and motivation. I have become the most aware of who I am and what I want to do with my life through PGC. I have learned that this is my true passion and something I could see myself doing and not feel like I am working because it is something I am passionate about. It is something that encourages me to get up the next day and do more and be more involved.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“The most memorable aspect for this was probably the adventure day. This was because I was at a tournament for a sport and decided to go on my adventure spontaneously with a  friend afterwards as the team went out for dinner. What stood out here though was the fact that we found a pig. This pig came out of nowhere and just started following us. We didn’t really know what to do so we let the pig tag a long. Eventually we dropped him off at a farm down the road hoping that’s where he was from but who knows. My friend and I still had a great adventure and it helped show us that no matter what happens, life will throw you very unexpected things like a pig in this example and you just got to go with the flow and make the best of any situation.”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“I graduate next semester so the next step to my life is right around the corner. I want to take this time to say I want to help implement more sustainable awareness and project at campuses, schools, businesses, etc. all around the country. I want to give people all of generations this reason to believe and have faith in this world. I want to give presentations and do school events and get people motivated for change and excited about it. Everyone likes something new, and they like change, so let’s get everyone involved in this change. I will bring the communities closer together and bring this environmental activism to life and show how great everything really is and why it matters to every person around us.”

Koleigh Vachereau

Sophomore, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

PGC PORTFOLIO VIDEO

Koleigh is from Burlington, Vermont and currently attends the University of Vermont.  She currently majors in Anthropology with a minor in Law and Society. In her free time, she likes to hike around Vermont and spend time with her family. She is passionate about coffee and the cultural importance that surrounds the coffee bean. In January, she is attending University of Leeds for six months to study cultural anthropology through the British lens. After her undergraduate degree she plans on going to law school to become an international rights lawyer or attend graduate school to become a cultural anthropologist.

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

Vitalizing, informative, impactful, persistent, innovative

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“30 days ago, I was just a college student who cared about the environment but had the basic knowledge about climate change. Through this challenge not only am I more educated on climate change and different topics that are related it to. I have become more conscious about my purchases, lifestyle choices, transportation and any action that is taken during my day.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“The most memorable aspect of PGC for me was the food waste challenge. As I educated myself on food waste, the misconception of labels and seeing how my community treated food waste opened my eyes to the possibility of change in my community. This was an issue that impacted me tremendously as a child and to think that is a resolution out there excited me. I saw an opportunity in my college community to start a climate action project aimed at disposing food waste another way, decreasing the hunger in the community as well as creating a safe space for students to go to get food without public stigmatization.”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“I’m going to continue to educate my friends and community after this challenge has ended. I’m studying abroad in England in the spring and will spread this knowledge across the pond! I believe that when one person is aware of something that makes them responsible for spreading that knowledge. I’m excited to continue having engaging conversations surrounding climate change, single use plastic, food, and nature. One person can truly change the world one step at a time, and I see my impact already after a short 30 days.”

Morgan Wetzel

Junior, Rock Canyon High School, Highland Ranch, CO

PGC PORTFOLIO VIDEO

Morgan is a junior at Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. She was born in Monterey, California and has lived in Arizona, Kansas, Texas, Virginia, and Germany.  Her interests include wildlife, traveling, and experiencing new things. She has two siblings, Kai and Teagan, and two dogs, Heston and Prinz. Some small tidbits about her are that her favorite color is orange, favorite animal is a Tasmanian Devil, she loves sweets and tea, she used to Irish dance, and she knows how to scuba dive. Her dream for the future is to work with penguins in Antarctica. 

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

challenging, engaging, enlightening, anticipating, and inspiring

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“At the beginning of PGC, I thought, “ok, I’ll just do some of the challenges occasionally for fun and see what I can learn.” However, the more days that passed, the more I wanted to do my best and learn about all the different topics like Climate Justice, Footprint, Soil, etc. Comparing my current self to how I was before PGC, I have become more productive and aware of the choices/actions I make. PGC has pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to try things I never would have otherwise.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“Some challenges make you socialize with others or post on social media, which encouraged me out of my comfort zone a lot more. These types of challenges pushed me to make sure I had all the facts before I presented my opinion. Also, by engaging with others, I’ve had some very interesting conversations, to say the least.”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“First, I’m going to make some personal changes with my lifestyle, cutting back on meat, buying nontoxic toiletry products, and trying to spend more time in nature. I’m also excited to make changes at my school that will lower our carbon footprint starting with implementing a school garden. I am more willing to stand up for what I believe in by rallying others towards the cause. I’m more willing now to talk to administrators, and teachers and make changes that are for the better of everyone.”

Nistha Singh

Freshman, Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies, New Dehli, India

PGC PORTFOLIO VIDEO

Nistha was born and brought up in Delhi. Presently, she is a freshman at Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies pursuing B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering. She is very passionate about reading, music, travelling, writing and coding. She intends to use her knowledge of Computer Science to build solutions for complex persisting problems in the world like that of Climate Change.

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

Informative, Enlightening, Transforming, Amazing, Life-changing

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“I would say that looking back at myself, I never had a history of consistency, public speaking. I was always this introverted child who felt insecure not just about herself but also about how others may perceive me. Starting PGC, I promised myself a change that will not just help me taking actions to contribute to save mother Earth but also changes that will help me to grow individually. And i couldn’t help but gloat about how PGC has brought this leadership side of me in front of everyone. From rallying to giving a presentation, I’ve never felt so powerful with the knowledge that i acquired during my time in the PGC journey. One thing that i observed the most remarkable change in myself is that before PGC,i also followed along the misconception of “We’re doomed”,PGC helped me to realise that our youth has the power to mitigate climate change and an action of an individual is all it takes to create a ripple effect. Now I’m more confident, optimistic,and a true changemaker.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“I am not sure if that question is phrased properly. But I’ll try to answer considering the both possible questions that I’m perceiving as of now.

The memorable aspect of PGC was when I learnt about PGC itself. That there does exists an organisation who is helping students like us to prepare us for a destination that will help us to revolutionize the world with the knowledge that we will acquire over the 30 days. It was first time I ever heard of PGC and the most interesting part was that people from different country were standing as one reflecting on policies that they are working on and how they intend to see that change. I really wanted to experience that and truly take most out of this experience.

Talking about PGC2019, it’s the TED talks. I know it’s strange but the memorable aspect of PGC 2019 for me were the Ted talks. Everyday I use to wait for the amazing amazing videos that you refer us. It was my favorite part of the to watch all those video and be inspired and motivated to go ahead for the challenges.”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“First of all, my climate action project is all about what I’ve learned in PGC and i believe with the help of this project ,I can actually actually leave a long term impact inspiring many to be awakened to the reality of our world and start taking actions.

First of all, the key to any change is awareness. My very first task before getting involved into any project or campaign is to make sure that I’m able to aware as many people as around me. I want to make sure that my little choices includes mindful use of resources and I promotes the same. I will effect that change with the knowledge that I’ve acquired over the time in my PGC journey not just in my own life but also into the lives of others with the help.of my project which I really forward to work on. I can’t wait to see how big of an impact it can actually creates. That’s the beauty of technology.”

Rowan Stalnaker

Junior, Bloomington High School South, Bloomington, IN

PGC PORTFOLIO VIDEO

Rowan is from Bloomington, Indiana, a beautiful college town surrounded by the rolling hills and bluffs of southern Indiana. He spent most of my childhood exploring the area, and each year he continues to find new natural wonders. He was inspired to become an environmentalist after two major awakenings. The first began when he became active in the fly fishing community, and learned about all the threats posed to the rivers of the world and their surrounding areas. He pledged to help fight for the few wild rivers we have left, like the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska that is currently threatened by a proposed mine that could wipe out the largest single sockeye salmon run we have left. More recently he has delved into the world of benthic macroinvertebrates, which tell a nearly complete story about the health of a stream or river. He has spent countless hours out in several creeks in his area collecting samples and performing citizen science for an organization called Hoosier River Watch, which establishes baselines for and monsters the health of streams statewide. Through this program, he connected with my AP Environmental Science teacher at Bloomington High School South, who inspired him to take a leap of faith and educate myself further about both environmental and social issues through PGC. He is so grateful to have had the opportunity to do PGC, and plans to help further the environmentalist movement in his school and in the Bloomington community as a whole.

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

Inspiring, Educational, Engaging, Motivational, and Stressful

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“Before PGC, while I did make an effort to be environmentally conscious, I really didn’t know what to do or how to do it. Through this month of difficult yet informative challenges, I have transformed not only what I thought it meant to be environmentally conscious, but also how I acted in accordance to that idea. I have learned not only to improve my environmental footprint, but also how to help others lessen theirs. I learned the environmental and social impact of clothing, which I had never realized affected the environment in any significant way. I will no longer support fast fashion brands like Hollister and American Eagle. Project Green Challenge also changed the way I think about my food. It taught me the importance of organic produce, and inspired me to go vegetarian, with meals heavily inspired by FLOSN criteria. This month has also taught me exactly how hard I can push myself, with the difficult workload layered on top of my other extracurriculars and school work leading up to finals. This struggle has taught me that taking time for self care and stress management can actually save time in the long run. This challenge has also inspired me to take initiative and form a group of concerned students (8 so far) at my school to help preserve biodiversity on my school’s campus, educating and inspiring other students to become more environmentally sustainable.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“For me, the most memorable aspect of this year’s Project Green Challenge was the adventure challenge. This challenge inspired me to push on and keep going with this year’s challenges. It helped me through a difficult spot where I had many hours of school work a night on top of Project Green Challenge, and the stress and lack of sleep from this routine was crashing my mental health. With the little bit of extra motivation to get outside that the challenge provided, I asked my friend if she wanted to carpool to a nature preserve with me, When we arrived, I felt kind of hopeless, like I was wasting time, but after only five minutes of hiking, I was smiling with a mind clear of stress. After more than three hours of exploration and observation, I was out of the hole and motivated to push through my workload. It inspired me to get outside and do hikes similar to it three more times afterward, and I can confidently say that my perseverance in this challenge was completely due to this experience. This increased focus on self care helped me to maintain my mental health for the remainder of the challenge, even when my workload got substantially heavier.”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“After my experience this October, I have a variety of Ideas on how I should use my newfound knowledge. In the short term, I plan to see my project of restoring south’s rain garden through, and to take a more prominent role as an executive in my school’s environmental club. Through this avenue, I will work on reducing waste and energy consumption at my high school, as well as working on education and outreach to younger students at elementary schools in my school district. I would lead the environmental club in a more active direction, encouraging Fridays For Future and carpooling with other students to protests both in Bloomington and Indianapolis. I would also like to educate the students in the club, and in each meeting I would go over one seldom discussed part of the environmental movement, ranging from fast fashion to regenerative agriculture. This would help inspire new students to go out on their own and learn more, be it through Project Green Challenge or some other resource. In the longer term, I would use the lessons I have learned from this challenge when deciding my major, and eventually, my career. I now plan to study something involving environmental science in college, and am so thankful that this challenge has pushed me in that direction. I am inspired to help lead this generation in the fight for comprehensive climate policy and reform, and I plan to pursue this goal both in high school, college, and my future work.”

Team Green Gang (Aurora Yuan, Alice Feng)

Junior, Princeton High School, Princeton, NJ

PGC PORTFOLIO VIDEO

Team Green Gang is two person team in Princeton, New Jersey. Aurora is a junior at Princeton High School. She recently got involved in various environmental movements and organizations and help co-lead the NJ Youth Climate Strike. She also participates in various sustainability projects inside and outside of school. In her free time, you can find her watching figure skating on YouTube or eating a pint of my favorite ice cream! Alice is also a junior from Princeton High School. She moved to the US two years ago from Shanghai, China! She is always an “avid environmentalist” and has always been actively engaged in school and community-wide environmental activities. In her free time, you can find her taking a very long nap or curled up on her bed reading her favorite book!

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

Inspiring, educational, life-changing, empowering, mobilizing

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“In the past 30 days, we have grown together as a team and as individuals. Before participating in Project Green Challenge, we cared about the environment and did what we could to help out, but had never been extremely involved. After 30 days of inspiring challenges, we are now so much more mobilized to create a wave of change in this world. We have learned that we are capable of much more than we originally thought we were, and that our voices, our actions, and opinions really do matter. One person (or two, in our case) can create a huge ripple effect and fight the status quo. Therefore, we have gained the confidence as well as the knowledge we need to tackle some of the great environmental issues and change makers in this world.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“The most memorable aspect of PGC 2019 was definitely being able to experience things that we would never had if we did not participate in PGC. For example, we got to see our school’s garden, which we did not know even existed until the day 8 Soil challenge. Now we want to do whatever we can to help protect, preserve, and expand this beautiful garden we have. Also, going to the PERIOD march in New York City was truly inspiring and incredible, and we met so many amazing people. That is something we never would have done if it was not for PGC, but it really opened our eyes to the world. PGC gave us the opportunity to experience new things that drastically changed our lives and how we look at the world, and this was the most memorable part of PGC.”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“We will best put this newly gained knowledge and wisdom by paying it forward. We want to effect change in people’s hearts, starting in own school, community, state, and eventually spreading the message everywhere. As changemakers in our community, we will use this newfound knowledge and experience to create a more sustainable community through things like our climate action plan, where projects like switching to reusable bottles and utensils as well as expanding our school’s organic garden would pave the way to create great difference at our school. We would also love to work with sustainability and environmental leaders to build new ideas and capitalize on what we already have. In the near future, we see ourselves making huge waves of change in our community and beyond.”

Team Green Queens (Tatum Robinson, Sarah Cipollini, Holly Francis, Ariel Simpson)

Senior, Champlain College, Burlington, VT

PGC PORTFOLIO VIDEO

Tatum grew up in the woods in New Hampshire, and learned at a young age how much she loved nature and exploring the outdoors. She knew early on that she wanted to be a part of conserving the nature she had grown up so closely to. As she started learning more about the environment and the things that humans did to impact nature, she began to see the ties between humans and the environment, and how important those ties are. She has always been passionate about helping the planet and trying to make the world a happier place for everyone to live. She decided to attend Champlain College in Burlington, VT and major in Environmental Policy and Studies. She did not know exactly what she wanted to do after graduation, but knew that she was in the right field. Her time at Champlain has taught me much more about how humans and the environment are connected. She has learned about environmental justice, and the many ties between justice and climate change. She has had the opportunity to travel to Uganda and spend 5 months in New Zealand through Champlain, and have gathered global experiences that gave her a passion for sustainable travel and ecotourism, which she hopes to pursue after graduation. Her dream is to work in Antarctica on the United State’s science base. She loves to explore new ways to travel sustainably, keep up with politics, and get into nature.

 

What five words would best describe your PGC experience?

Mobilizing, reflective, collaboration, justice, transformative

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have your changed? What have you learned about yourself?

“Before starting PGC, I was environmentally-conscious, and had a lot of education on sustainability and how to lower my own carbon footprint. However, even with this knowledge, I found myself not always acting in accordance with my values. I was in a bit of a sustainability rut where I knew where I stood on the issues, but was feeling really burnt out and defeated in light of the climate crisis and current political situation in the U.S.. As I started completing Project Green challenges, I began to realize again why I cared in the first place. I was able to apply my knowledge, learn new things, and do something fun! Doing small challenges each day, and working with my team to do them gave me a reinvigorated sense of hope and excitement to tackle the issues that I care so much about. This sense of hope helped me rediscover the importance of acting out my own values and making sure that I was leading others by example. I learned that I need fresh engagement to keep myself motivated, and PGC provided me with fun new ways to remind myself of how important these issues are to me. I am more ready than ever to hold myself accountable for living the type of lifestyle I believe in, and have a newfound appreciation for leading others in doing the same.”

 

What was the most memorable aspect of PGC for you?

“The most memorable aspect of Project Green Challenge for me was working with my team to complete the challenges, and being able to share a passion for sustainability within my team. We had so much fun doing the challenges, especially the extra credit challenges like getting together to cook a group dinner! Everyone on my team has very busy schedules, so PGC gave us an opportunity to make time to spend time together and work on what we are passionate about. Since three out of four of us are seniors, it was so memorable to be able to participate in something that brought us all together and gave us a common goal to work toward. I will never forget how dedicated we all were to the challenges, and how that dedication continued throughout the whole month. Also, we all supported each other throughout the month, picking up the slack when someone was having a busy day, cheering each other on, and dividing up the work according to all of our schedules. Because of this, we were all able to get so much out of this experience, and made memories that will last long after graduation.”

 

After 30 days of bold and brilliant work and newly acquired wisdom, how will you best put it to use? 

“I will effect change by keeping up the fight for a more equitable and sustainable world. I intend to incorporate sustainability and environmental issues into all that I do moving forward, and continue to make positive changes in my own lifestyle. I am very passionate about environmental issues, and am pursuing careers in this field. I will advocate not just for sustainability as it relates to the environment, but for justice and equity. It is my dream to run an ecotourism company that uses sustainable tourism to benefit local people in the areas that tourism is happening, and tourists seeking a better way to travel. It is my goal to combine the terms tourism, and ecotourism, and make sustainable and socially conscious travel the norm. In whatever I do, I hope to keep learning. Continued learning cultivates positive change because it will allow me to not get stuck in one mindset. There is so much for me to learn, and I will try to learn as much as I can through travel, connections with others, and formal education opportunities. 

I want to embody my values in all that I do. I know that this will take a lot of work, but this will enact positive change for the planet by lowering my personal footprint, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. I aspire to be an advocate standing with the marginalized groups most impacted by climate change, but too often go unheard. Educating myself more on the impacts and learning how to best stand with these groups will help me in making this change. Thinking about how I want to make change makes me feel ready to get out and do it! I felt this many times throughout PGC, and can’t wait to keep working on enacting positive change.”