As I had mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, during my senior year of high school, my Editor-in-Chief of my high school paper and I reinvigorated our dismantled Environmental Club. Noticing an environmentally aware demographic, but without an outlet to express it, my EIC and I collaborated with a mutual friend to revive our ancient greenhouse, to plant the first school gardens in years, and to educate students who were not taking environmental studies as a course (it is still, unfortunately, an elective). My EIC and I met with the local School Board to discuss improving sustainable practices at the administrative level, and to incorporate more environmentally conscious food into our cafeteria. This hands-on interaction with local government is what primarily got me interested in the legislative aspect of environmentalism. I knew that while I lacked in creativity, despite having a vivid imagination, I was very good at deciphering legalese and reading through legislation. This came into handy while my EIC and I were fighting Agenda 21 conspiracists/climate deniers who were trying to influence our local town council — and, thanks to our organization and broadened support from the Environmental Club, we were successful.
Thanks to the Environmental Club, not only did I learn how to run a functioning organization (I was Class President the year before, and was bureaucratically gridlocked), how to organize to influence local government, and how to expand a message, but I was also fortunate enough to meet one of my most treasured friends — Scott Chernoff — who introduced me to SustainUS. Our organization’s advisor was our former environmental studies teacher, and although Scott graduated years before I did, he was a great mentor in real-life application for environmental policy work.