Freshman, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
I am an outdoorsy, adventurous girl from the small town of Charlottesville, Virginia. I am a first year at the University of Virginia, potentially double majoring in Global Sustainability and Youth and Social Innovation. My dream is to have a job that allows me to travel the world, combining environmental advocacy with social justice efforts. I love to spend my time traveling, hiking, and camping in national parks across the country. I also adore reading, yoga, and volunteering with youth.
Enlightening. Terrifying but Hopeful. Inspiring.
Being presented with the facts, but also being empowered to find solutions to those problems. As a kid, adults often assume you aren’t capable of solving problems on your own. They either patronize you or tell you there are no possible solutions. Being treated as smart enough and motivated enough to find these solutions was very empowered and gave me such a sense of agency! I wish more things, like classes, were like that.
In the end, I am a changed person because of these challenges and PGC as a whole. Prior to project Green Challenge, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher- or at least I thought I did. I knew I wanted to impact change, but I didn’t know how. When people asked what I wanted to study, I would tell them, but I was always full of a sense of incompleteness. Being a teacher didn’t fully encompass my life’s purpose. My passion for the environment had always been inside of me- all of my summers have been spent roaming the country in a van, camping, hiking, and backpacking in national parks. This instilled a love of nature and a need to protect it- but I didn’t know how. I had never been a science person, so I didn’t want to be an environmental scientist. I didn’t know how to be an environmental advocate through a human lense- interacting with people, which I loved about being a teacher. Competing in Project Green Challenge was like being fully alive for the first time. For the first time in my life, it was clear to me what I wanted to do- combine interacting with people, social justice, and environmental conservation into one job. The whole concept of educating and inspiring youth to protect the environment and fight for a more sustainable future was a wonderful one- it completely encapsulated what I wanted to do with my life! Because of Project Green Challenge, I am now majoring in Global Sustainability, as well as Youth and Social Innovation. My goal is to work in a nonprofit like Turning Green, educating and mobilizing people to live more sustainable lives and become advocates themselves. Even if I do not make it to the finals, I am fundamentally changed because of this experience, and for that I thank you.
I think that for any major change, there are always a few key steps that you have to implement. Thanks to Project Green Challenge, I feel confident in my ability to successfully implement them! The first is education. I can spread the word about the impact these various factors have on the environment. I will host talks and bring speakers to communities, college campuses, and workplaces, and create campaigns informing people about their environmental impact. The next is inspiring them to create the change in themselves. It can be in small ways, like bringing a reusable water bottle, or big ways, like going vegan or buying an electric car. The important thing is that after you give people the bad news(ie. climate change is real, 6th mass extinction, huge amounts of waste), you give them the good news- they have the ability to change this. You create a sense of agency within them by showing them that there is a solution and inspiring them to achieve it. The next goal is to help them effect change in others by starting grassroots movements. These movements can lobby for governmental change, go directly to companies and consumers to influence their practices, and show the world that people care about the environment! The next step is money. We can raise money to invest in sustainable companies and environmental nonprofits. This will help them become more successful and create a larger scale change! With these steps, we will be well on our way to implementing world wide changes.