By Mikaela Foehr March 15, 2022

In eleven states across the country, Defend has campus ambassadors working to advocate for climate solutions in their communities. We provide them with training, fact sheets, and counsel but rely on them to communicate in a way that is meaningful to their unique communities. They impress us constantly with their creative and community-oriented partnerships, events, and messaging – and these past two weeks have been no different.

Conor Williams, a Temple University ambassador, who joined us on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court back in February, continued the fight to protect EPA’s authority through an op-ed for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Conor wrote that the Supreme Court should not allow coal companies to write their own rules, pulling from his experience in D.C. last month on the morning of oral arguments for West Virginia v. EPA. Conor did a wonderful job informing his readers on the case, painting the scene at the rally, and spotlighting emotions – all while centering his home city of Philadelphia. His op-ed is a perfect example of how to tie national issues to local communities.

Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-14) speaking at the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 28, 2022.

In Florida, University of Central Florida Campus Ambassadors Johanna Packer and Chere’ Erickson have been working hard to create connections with lawmakers. The pair have been in contact with Rep. Kathy Castor’s office for most of the semester, and this past Monday, Johanna and Chere’, along with students from our partners at Our Climate, hosted a town hall with Rep. Castor, who is also the Chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The town hall provided an opportunity for students in the Tampa Bay and central Florida area to thank Rep. Castor for her climate leadership, hear their representative speak on climate, and ask questions about how she is working to prioritize the needs of younger generations.

The facilitating students, all young women, took turns asking Rep. Castor questions ranging from the benefits of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law), Congress’s role to ensure resources are prioritized for frontline communities, and how young people like them can get involved in holding representatives accountable. Throughout the conversation the students were able to achieve a rapport with Rep. Castor, discussing some common experiences growing up in Florida and how that relates to their current climate priorities. It was a wonderful display in the professionalism of our youth activists, and it was not just us who noticed. Rep. Castor praised the students multiple times for setting such a strong example of engaged citizenship and encouraging them to continue on their path of activism.

Speaking of incredible women pursuing change – it is Women’s History Month! Last Tuesday, March 8, was International Women’s Day and a post of ours actually went a little bit viral! We got over 23,000 views on an Instagram reel featuring the ladies of Defend talking about what women in the environmental movement, or being one themself, means to them. Our Digital Marketing Specialist Jessica Gomez has an all-star line up of social posts for the rest of this month, including weekly Women Crush Wednesdays where we will be highlighting women who inspire us in the environmental space. So, as always, make sure you are following us on Instagram @defendourfuture to ensure you don’t miss any chances to celebrate with us.

Internally, our team is excited to finally kick off our strategic planning this week. We are coming into it with big dreams for expanding our work and finding ways to better serve our community. We can’t wait to pull together a clear path to make them happen.

Some upcoming Defend events we would love to see you at:

  • Tonight at 7 p.m. EST our Temple team is hosting a Defend Our Soil virtual seminar in partnership with Everwild Farm. Everwild is a small-scale local farm in Ambler, PA whose mission is to maintain a balanced ecosystem on their land through regenerative agriculture practices. Resident Everwild farmer Thom Pearsall will join the students to discuss how climate change threatens our soil and the benefits of the regenerative farming practices Everwild Farm prioritizes. Sign up here to join!
  • Next Tuesday, March 22, at 4:30 p.m. EST we will be having a Women’s History Month Instagram Live discussion featuring our own Kyli Wagner and Mikaela Foehr alongside Howard University Campus Ambassador Taylor Campbell. The group will be talking about what it means to them to be a woman in the environmental movement and how their experiences have shaped their outlook on the climate crisis. You can find it on our Instagram @defendourfuture.
  • Although still a ways out, we want to flag that there will be a Defend Our Air event at the end of the month – in collaboration with Moms Clean Air Force! We are very excited to partner with them to talk about air quality in Colorado on March 31 at 8 p.m. EST. The event will feature Dr. Richard Wagner from Metro State University Science, along with other expert guest speakers including MCAF’s own Laurie Anderson. As if that wasn’t incentive enough – there will also be a raffle for an air purifier! You can RSVP here.

Climate change can feel like a larger-than-life challenge, mostly because in many ways it is. But this is why we emphasize community and personal connections in our messaging, because to feel connected to the issue – and feel powerful enough to make a difference – it needs to hit close to home. We are incredibly proud of the way our campus ambassadors have been able to implement this strategy in their own communities. The momentum these young climate leaders are building will carry us all forward and we are excited to be a guiding force with them.

Defend is gaining speed, so be sure to keep up.

Warmest regards,
Mikaela Foehr