By Mikaela Foehr March 31, 2022

Happy Spring! I hope you have been able to take time to appreciate the beauty in the nature around you, we certainly have been. Springtime is synonymous with many different things – new beginnings, spring cleaning, allergies, and (if you live in D.C.) cherry blossoms!

Speaking of spring cleaning, our campus ambassadors are taking the tradition to a whole new level. On March 19 University of Arizona Campus Ambassadors Logan Murphy and Josh Tashoff gathered 25 volunteers and headed out to Gates Pass for a trail clean up. Besides being utterly beautiful, the event was a huge success with the team picking up nearly 15 pounds of litter! Josh even had to run to a nearby hardware store to get more supplies to accommodate the large crowd.

While cleaning, the team also drew notice from other people on the trail. Regional Organizer Alex Ross, who mentors the team, said it was a great chance to advertise Defend Our Future to the larger community. At the end of the day, the team was able to sit and enjoy a beautiful sunset – a perfect representation of why we do the work we do.

The CSU Fort Collins team also hosted a clean-up this past week! Campus Ambassadors Morgan Brown and Reaghan Fields organized the day that got 12 volunteers to join them in cleaning up the Poudre River – picking up a number of bags worth of litter. After the cleanup, the team participated in a climate strike in Old Town Fort Collins that drew hundreds of people. Events like these clean-ups are wonderful ways to build connections among chapter members, building a sustained activism force for the future.

Although not out in nature, our University of Virginia team was also hard at work growing the Defend movement in the Old Dominion. Campus Ambassadors Madison Crouch and Ephrata Yohannes attended the Tame Impala concert in Hampton, VA as a continuation of our partnership with Reverb. Madison and Ephrata spoke to concert-goers about the ways they can get involved with the work we do on climate, handed out DOF merch, and collected signatures on a petition calling on President Biden and Congress to act on clean energy and climate investments.

While those teams were engaging the public and giving the Earth a little TLC, others were speaking to congressional and even a mayoral office on the urgency to act on climate solutions at the federal and local levels! Here is a list of all the meetings we’ve had recently:

  • Our University of North Carolina Greensboro team met with staff from Sen. Thom Tillis’ and Rep. Alma Adams’ offices.
  • University of Houston Downtown Campus Ambassadors met with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office of Sustainability.
  • The Colorado State University at Fort Collins team, in tandem with their campus’ Sustainability Club, met with Sen. John Hickenlooper’s office.
  • And last, but not least our Ohio State University team met with staff from Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office.

The ambassadors do not take these opportunities lightly. They work to prepare for these meetings with their mentors so that they have a plan going into the conversation – knowing how to explain Defend Our Future’s mission, what brought them to the DOF space, and what they want to see their representative take on next.

As spring is also a symbol of growth and new beginnings, it is fitting that we have been hosting events focused on introspection and building community support. On March 22 we took time to celebrate women activists through our Women in Action Instagram Live discussion. The post reached over 260 accounts and currently has over 100 views! Defend Director Kyli Wagner, Campus Ambassador Taylor Campbell, and I participated in the panel, speaking about our personal experiences, inspirations, advice for younger generations, and hopes for the future. Personally, I was thrilled to get the chance to speak with these women who inspire me on a daily basis. You can find the recording of our conversation on our Instagram.

The Temple University and Arizona State University chapters teamed up for a joint screening of Don’t Look Up this past Friday. If you haven’t seen it, Don’t Look Up is a brilliant parody of the personal and political dilemmas related to the climate crisis that also speaks directly to the anxiety that comes from realizing the enormity of the challenge we are up against. After screening the movie, the students led a discussion with well-known environmental leaders including Alexandria Villasenor, a sustainability influencer and author; EDF’s own Rainer Romero-Canyas; Hailey Campbell, the North America Focal Point for the Official Youth Constituency of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; and Tafadzwa Kurotwi, a Zimbabwe youth activist from the Rise Up Movement. Eco-anxiety is a struggle that all of us in the environmental movement must face one way or the other, and this conversation was a wonderful way to shed light on those difficulties and let us know that we are not alone.

Clearly, this change in seasons has already brought a lot of activity for our little team – and we plan to keep it up! As we near April and Earth Day (which should really be Earth Month) we have an exciting list of events for you to join:

  • For those in the Fort Collins, Colorado area, our Colorado State University chapter is hosting a Defend Our Art event at Wolverine Farm Publick House on April 2. They will be celebrating environmental art and artists and talking about the important intersections between art and activism.
  • April 5th we will be hosting a virtual training titled Crafting Narratives: Storytelling in the Climate Movement. The training will address how we can each leverage our personal stories as tools to advance climate priorities, focusing especially on op-eds and letters to the editor.
  • Our Defend Our Air event – hosted in partnership with Moms Clean Air Force – has been moved to April 14! Hopefully, this extra time will give you a chance to adjust your calendars so you can join us. More information and the sign-up link can be found on our Mobilize page.
  • On Earth Day, April 22, we will be hosting a Defend Our Oceans webinar with an all-star lineup of guests. I won’t give too much away now but be sure to RSVP to learn about how we can all care for our oceans – whether we live near one or not.

Finally, if these roundups are too infrequent for your DOF appetite, don’t worry because we have a number of additional blogs prepped for the weeks ahead. Always be sure to check in on our website or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for up-to-date information. I am excited to share everything that comes next.

Warmest regards,
Mikaela Foehr