Submitted by Katie Fleming
Friends of the San Juans Community Engagement Director
Hope follows action when we support students. All around the world, on “Fridays for the Future,” students strike for action on climate change. On Fridays, our local youth have marched to draw attention to and demand change for our environment. On Tuesdays they work with me! Together, we’re building a framework for change by working on initiatives that will help our community address solutions to climate change.
Protecting the environment and mentoring youth to take action is the heart and soul of my work. I am constantly inspired by the interest the teenage generation has for making change. I want to engage them in important issues and help them harness their power. These students are the inspiration that provides hope for my young children’s future.
I am cultivating a plan of action with students. It starts simply enough, with reducing plastic use and cleaning up beaches – then it grows exponentially. I provide structure for students to navigate the legislative path to change rules and propose initiatives. For me, this framework speaks directly to the fire behind the eyes of 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg when she states, “Where there is action, there is hope.”
I know the future is in good hands. This year, two of my Friday Harbor High School students asked the San Juan Island School District board to approve a climate change action resolution. It was adopted and the school board will now take climate change into consideration during decision making.
Mentoring students also goes beyond the local level. A field trip to Olympia last winter provided the opportunity for the youth to talk with the governor and numerous legislators. The students conveyed the importance of finding cleaner alternatives for energy, reducing plastics and keeping the Salish Sea clean and safe from oil spills. I am inspired as I witness mentoring actions spring to life. These high school students are transformed into young adults in the environmental movement, capturing and holding the attention of rule makers.
Friends of the San Juans will continue this important work, mentoring for our shared future. I will lead the Olympia field trip again this winter and watch students make the leap from cleaning up plastics on beaches to leveraging their skills for big change at home and state-wide. We will need your support. About 60 percent of funding for Friends’ programs comes from members like you. Please consider a donation before Dec. 31 to secure our $30,000 match. To donate, visit https://bit.ly/34yb0tL.