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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Kenmore, Washington, USA

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Kenmore, Washington, USA
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Registered: December 2020
City/Town/Province: Kenmore
Posts: 1
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Crowded highways make me dizzy. I look towards the hundreds of cars and think of all the lives, as full of complex emotions and experiences as my own, stuffed into little pods moving through this world for me never to encounter. Highways make it seem so easy to stick with who and what you know—overlooking the people moving around you—when in reality, each person you see is somehow connected to the others.

I strive to make direct connections between people through environmental advocacy. My interest in real-world issues sparked up after realizing that the asphalt plant by my home was operating under old permits and emitting untested fumes. The plant is located at the top of Lake Washington in Kenmore, Washington. Situated directly next to a busy bikers’ trail, children's playground, and waterfront activities, the asphalt fumes post a threat to my community. Every day, hundreds of people use the trail both for leisure and to get work.

Meanwhile, I noticed numerous coming forward and saying that the asphalt plant was negatively affecting their health—from trouble breathing to permanent damage and potential cancer concerns being brought up, something had to be done. I started with research. Even as far back as 1992, when the Department of Ecology assessed the plant, it was ranked a Category 1 facility, putting it in the highest risk category.

In a split second decision that launched me out of my comfort zone, I decided that I didn’t need to wait to be older or for a professional career to make an impact; I could connect with people and do something immediately. So, I built relationships with strangers in my community, grouping with older neighbors who shared my commitment to clean, healthy air. In a group unfamiliar with digital advocacy, I took leadership in organizing resources on Google Drive, recruiting youth to the cause, and raising awareness on social media through petitions and posts.

I gradually progressed from making new connections to facilitating connections between other people in my life. Having recently recruited 32 new members for my Earth Corps club at school, I amplified asphalt advocacy by bringing students from my Earth Corps group to the elderly environmental advocates of my community. I led a socially-distanced march, in which teenagers and retired community members formed an unlikely, yet powerfully visible coalition against unregulated toxic fumes.

Our work paid off. After community work and making direct requests at city meetings, our council voted for testing fumes. My work is not over yet, and will continue in the next coming months. I will be with this effort every step of the way, ensuring the motions we set in place continue and make a lasting impact in my community.

Bringing a wide variety of different people together to amplify environmental work that affects all of us taught me a truth that I cherish today—our lives aren’t as disconnected as they might often appear to be, such as from a highway. Now, when I see the cars, my dazed awe remains, but is accompanied by awareness that I can be a bridge between separate pods of our world.

For me, this extended beyond local environmental advocacy. I realized that to create long-lasting change, students like me had to be empowered to carry our passions into the workforce. So, I co-founded an agriculture-education organization—AgConnection—that has connected thousands of youth to career-preparedness resources. I created a Green Jobs digital resource for low-income students—a resource that reached over 18,000 students through teacher connections. Through outreach, I specifically engage with people in local community. disproportionately impacted by poverty. For these youth, green jobs are a definite pathway—a way to enter a new sustainable workforce, whether it be through college or lesser-known apprenticeship programs. I intend to bring all opportunities to light through career profile stories, pre-professional information, and education resources about local, affordable opportunities. This expanded further when I designed and initiated a seasonal virtual career panel series to regularly connect youth to green jobs professionals. My aim was, and will continue to be, inspiring youth to lead a sustainable, equitable future workforce.

My environmental advocacy project was launched from a passion for addressing local issues, but built into something greater—an effort to not only address immediate issues, but set up an infrastructure to approach environmental issues in my local community in the years to come through a new sustainable workforce. Transforming our future is ambitious, requiring all people to be empowered to fight for the lives and environment they deserve. My ideas are bold. I not only admit it, but embrace it. A fundamental change to protect people and our planet requires unwavering dreamers.
Date: December 28, 2020 Views: 2309 File size: 17.7kb, 411.9kb : 1280 x 960
Hours Volunteered: 200
Volunteers: 20
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 15 to 65
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