Josephine Sparks

PGC 2019 Co-3rd Place, Junior, Bloomington High School South, Bloomington, IN


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!”