Inspired May IV - Page 22

WRITING Charles Orgbon III GREEN FORWARD EXCITES As an 18-year-old high school student today, I found myself five years ago thinking about the world and my role within it differently. I saw my school’s littering problem and I wanted to make a difference, but then I found that our world is facing problems even greater than littering. I was aware of the issues, but lacked the skills to do much about them – so I learned the skills. Skills such as grant writing, building collaboratives, recruitment, outreach, and marketing are what I found to be a few of the gaps young people were lacking to solve community issues. Greening Forward grew out of this void for wanting to fix this gap. Through peer-to-peer programs such as the International Young Environmentalists Youth Summit (IYEYS), Greening Forward excites 2,000 young people, ages 5-25, around solving environmental issues in over 15 communities around the United States. In fact, through a generous $2,000 grant from the Power of Children Award at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Greening Forward was able to celebrate our second International Young Environmentalists Youth Summit. IYEYS brings together amazing youth like students from Evergreen Community Charter School, who led the implementation of a stormwater plan for their school; Mario Ridgely, Jr., a 13-yearold who hosts his own eco-radio show, Alive & Green; and Brooklyn Wright, a 12-year-old environmental educator known as Earth Saver Girl. Participants network with other environmental leaders, share stories, and brainstorm solutions for a more sustainable future. Youth working on virtually any environmental issue can find a place at the IYEYS: sustainable agriculture, wildlife conservation, natural resource Anniversary Making a Difference 22 Inspired conservation, transportation and air quality, land use, and environmental justice. Through panels, workshops, and activities, youth built capacity around non-violent communication, grant writing, partnership development, project planning, team-building, social media, branding, volunteer recruitment, succession-planning, and diversity and inclusion. Presentations are led by Students themselves; and, in fact, the entire conference is put together by high school and freshman college students. We have found this peer-to-peer youth leadership programming to be effective in exciting today’s generation of young leaders. We invite readers to join the conversation with #IYEYS on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.