I first became involved with Defend Our Future as a volunteer during the 2016 election, and enjoyed working with the organization so much that I became an intern the following semester. The experience was more than I could have hoped for.
Over the course of the semester, I was given unique opportunities to grow as a young professional. I led the organization of a large-scale vegan event on campus, networked with environmental professionals, attended two conferences in Washington, DC, and discussed the issue of climate change with hundreds of college students around central Ohio. One of my favorite Defend Our Future experiences was attending the 2017 National Climate Leadership Summit in Washington, DC, at which I had the opportunity to engage with leaders in the energy and sustainability sectors from across the United States who spoke on a variety of topics, ranging from how to discuss eco-friendly practices with climate change deniers, to the comparative costs and benefits of solar, wind, and nuclear energy sources.
Notably, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy gave an inspirational speech about continuing the fight against climate change in the face of recent administration changes. My favorite speaker, former Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice at the EPA, Mustafa Ali, spoke about the power of grassroots movements in fighting for environmental justice.
The National Climate Leadership Summit conveyed only a fraction of the ideas, professional networks, and opportunities presented to me throughout my internship. The work environment at Defend Our Future is collaborative and open-minded, allowing for interns to provide key insight on event planning around campus. Each Defend Our Future intern has the power to make a difference in the fight against climate change.
My experience with Defend Our Future was a highlight of my second year at Ohio State. I would highly encourage students who are passionate about the well being of our Earth and its people to join this rewarding program.
Jordan Smoot is a junior at The Ohio State University.