Lara Breithaupt

Junior, Bloomington High School South, Bloomington, IN

I am a Junior attending Bloomington High School South in Southern Indiana. I am a dual citizen of the United States and Germany and have spent about two years living in Germany. At school, my focuses are on  sciences and mathematics and I plan to major in Physics when I go to college. By the end of my junior year in high school, I will likely have the standing of a minor in mathematics at Indiana University, Bloomington. I am the leader of the Students Advocating for a Greener Environment club (SAGE), participate in Science Olympiad, Academic Super Bowl, and Activity Council, play the cello, and lacrosse. With my soccer team, we won the state championship in 2015. I studied cello at the Jacob’s School of Music precollege program for 9 years and now continue privately. In my summers, she enjoys swimming at the lake, traveling, and trekking.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Intensity, ah-ha-moments, empowerment, hope, leadership

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

One of the most memorable PGC experiences that I had was my talk on the Justice of Climate Change. I was able to step in my class as a student leader and provoke meaningful discussion among my peers. This challenge to talk in front of other people about an issue that is very important to me was in the beginning very nerve-racking. However, once I saw that people were responding well and participating in the discussion and activity, I was able to see that my hard work paid off, making me feel more calm and accomplished. My AP Environmental Science teacher made her event for the day opened only to students who wanted to come to my presentation. I was not expecting the room to be completely filled. It was so incredible to see person after person walk into the room until there were roughly 50 students there to listen to me talk. This was the first big presentation that I had ever given, so it was very reassuring to see that I had so much support, even if I didn’t even know many of the people (they opted to come from my teacher advertising me and seeing the interesting activity name in the sign up page).

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

Before this experience, I thought that I knew a decent amount about sustainability. Throughout the challenges, I learned about practices that had never even crossed my mind in my everyday life. One was when we learned about fast fashion. I hadn’t put much thought into where my clothes were coming from before I learned about the huge impact it has on other people’s lives and the environment. After completing all of the challenges, I realized how much I didn’t know 30 day ago. I was surprised by the amount of things that I took for granted, that I would now never do, such as using the occasional plastic water bottle.  

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

One of the biggest lessons of PGC was that I learned that spreading ideas is possible for me, already as a high school student. For example, I was featured on the front page of our local newspaper (The Herald Times) during the challenges. One of my articles will appear in my school’s newspaper (The Optimist). These are both examples of how I have been able to reach my community. In the future, I plan on continuing my efforts to spread awareness about these vital environmental issues in my community and to other students. I can bring my knowledge of these topics to the environmental club at my school so that we can make even greater change in our school. I now know how to properly contact my representatives, which is the best way to convey my stance, as a student, on certain issues in the government. I will push others to contact their local representatives to make change happen all around the country and world. We are the leaders of tomorrow, and we can change the earth for the better.

Aradhya Seth – Team Holocoen

Second Year, Oriental Institute of Science and Technology, Bhopal, India

I believe that greatest threat to our Environment is to believe someone else will save it. I will give all it takes to save our mother nature.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Sustainable. Ingenious. Ambitious. Resourceful. Eco-Friendly.

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

The most memorable aspect of PGC was when I learnt about fair trade and that has become the favourite part of my PGC journey. The magazine that I was given to go through had so many stories in it, so many lives were associated with them and so many people had their part to play. I never thought of the hands which made my product but now I’m concerned about them more than my own self. These little things influenced me and that’s how I beheaded things the way I wanted. The submission for the story task holds an important place in my heart for I got to know about the injustice and humanity around the world. I am grateful for the fact that I was a part of such a great initiative and contributed a part of my bit. I’ll surely take things forward and will try to implement them as well.

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

Yes, I have definitely seen a change in myself. I am more conscious now, I am more aware now. On October 1, I was not even sure whether I will be able to complete this challenge, but yes, I did it. We completed each and every task of PGC 2018 and we are really proud of it.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

Success is a journey and not a destination; and being a part of PGC has made me realize that I have achieved one. We had our obstacles and hurdles to overcome; and we did do that, each with a lesson learnt, each with another new reason to keep the fire of zeal and exuberance ignited.

I believe I have started my journey as a change maker, starting from the constructive transformations which I have brought about in the past 30 days. They may be indigenous and small, but they were the stepping stones to creating a worldwide impact and we are proud to affirm that we have accomplished the former milestone.

If I were to be established as a change maker, the changes I would like to bring would be as follows:
1. Create awareness: Often, we are superficially aware of the issue but face trouble while finding solutions for it because the root cause is anonymous to us. For instance, pre PGC, I knew environmental degradation prevails but post PGC I am well aware of the causes, effects and  measures to be taken to eradicate the same.
2. Promoting ACT, REACT, IMPACT: Our negligent and laid back attitude as citizens has landed us into this abysmal state (delete: at the first step), so, encouraging action is of the utmost significance. Think globally, act locally. Then, raising our voice, demanding justice is mandatory. Voice your opinions, act on your words because you are your own warrior as well as savior, so fight against what’s wrong and support what’s right.

Then, along with your one little action, you impact the lives of many around you, and I have seen that myself in my journey of PGC.

Sophia Ludtke

Junior, Newark Academy, Gladstone, NJ

I am from Gladstone, NJ and a high school junior at Newark Academy where I am the co-president of my school’s Green & Blue Committee, our environmental club. I enjoy writing nature-inspired poetry and reporting on environmental news for my school newspaper. I also love spending time outdoors, whether hiking, gardening, cross-country skiing, or exploring national parks, and I recently travelled to Acadia National Park with the Earthwatch Institute to learn more about climate change research. In the future, I hope to explore the science of climate change along with issues related to environmental justice and public health. Having grown up abroad in Paris, France, I am also interested in how international affairs and diplomacy relate to environmentalism. Outside of my interest in the environment, I am a dancer with a modern dance company called In Motion, and I am Student Council president of my class.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Thought-provoking. Inspiring. Validating. Challenging. Life-changing.

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

I’d say my most memorable PGC experience was staying up until 2 AM working on my “eco summit” poster for the Ripple challenge. I got so carried away thinking through my plan. PGC pushed me to formally think it through and write it down on paper. And, I am now that much more inspired to turn an idea into a reality.

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

Overall, PGC has just been such a validating, even life-affirming experience. With each and every daily challenge, I began to feel more and more a part of a greater community of like-minded people and it is just such a great feeling to finally realize that. Following the work of the other PGC participants through the “winners” tab each day and hearing the other participants express their enthusiasm and passion for the environment through the PGC Facebook page really cemented for me the idea that so many people from so many different corners of the world care so much about the very same issues I do. I think this realization was probably the most impactful part of my whole PGC experience. Being in this kind of community motivated and pushed me to work that much harder and to think that much more deeply when working on each daily challenge, and it would be a dream come true to get to meet some of these people in person.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

Thinking about the idea of “thinking globally, acting locally”, there are several specific changes I would like to see take place at my school:

  • I am currently in the process of scheduling a meeting with one of my school administrators to discuss reusable energy options on our campus. Several neighboring schools have already paved the way and are using clean energy sources such as solar panels — it is my hope that our school might be able to look into something similar.
  • After our Fair Trade challenge, I noticed how our school vending machines currently don’t sell any Fair Trade products. Along with the Green & Blue Committee (environmental club) that I am a part of at my school, we are going to do some more research about specific fair trade products and encourage our school to begin to sell more of these products in our vending machines.
  • Like I keep mentioning, the biggest idea that I would like to see become a reality is my idea for a north central NJ high school eco summit. Already, I have been corresponding with our Green & Blue Committee club advisor and we have already begun to bounce ideas back and forth about specific speakers who could come to the summit/where and when the summit could be hosted etc.

These are just a few of the countless ideas that I hope to see implemented in my school over the upcoming years.