By Mikayla Beyries May 4, 2018

I’ve spent this past semester working alongside a group of driven and dedicated students, organizers and activists in the fight against climate change as an intern with Defend Our Future. We are some of the most passionate students who work daily to protect our environment in Arizona and across the country.

As an intern with Defend, I have had the unique opportunity to be on the front lines of this fight, meeting face-to-face with elected officials such as Congressman Tom O’Halleran. We were able to discuss with him the fears that many young people share, that climate change is a real danger to us all and that it isn’t being adequately addressed on a federal level. A meeting with a member of Congress who is willing to listen to our concerns helped illustrate the power of our generation’s voice and that elected officials – those who can affect meaningful change – really do want to hear from us.

The Congressman told us something I’ll never forget, that all of us are the future; that we are the change within our communities. With so much at stake in this fight, he said he felt energized by our conversation and couldn’t wait to see what else Defend Our Future will do to help bring about progress. We all felt a great deal of pride in what we’ve accomplished, knowing the road ahead will require many similar conversations.

I, too, am excited to see this organization continue to realize its potential. I plan to intern with Defend Our Future for as long as I possibly can, as I have made many friends that share my passions. Thank you with all my heart, my fellow Defenders, for not only defending our future, but also helping me build mine as well.

Mikayla Beyries is a freshman at Arizona State University.