Hello everyone, and welcome to another semester and another edition of Roundup! A LOT has happened since the start of 2023, so I won’t waste any time, let’s dive into it all!
fresh off the press
Defend officially launched Seeding the Future, our campaign to bring IRA investments in heat resilience, urban tree planting and green spaces to the communities that need them most. Our network of young people has consistently demonstrated enthusiasm for building sustainable futures at the community level, and Seeding the Future will encourage these young people to talk to local decision-makers, work with community partners and literally get their hands dirty to create a cleaner future. To learn more, check out our IG launch featuring Defend’s digital marketing specialist, Jessica Gomez and read about it on our website!
partnerships & petitions
We are less than three months into the year and already we’ve worked on two comment periods and two hearings for critical environmental rules. As partners in Climate Action Campaign’s Solutions for Pollution campaign, Defend worked to generate public comments for the EPA’s methane and soot rules. Defend has generated over 1,900 comments – and counting! – from our network! On top of that, Defend also supported eight young advocates to testify at public hearings on both rules. We also co-hosted a public comment workshop with Moms Clean Air Force and EDF Action to teach people the ins and outs of how to submit an impactful public comment. Over 50 people attended the workshop. Having young people participate in the rule-making process is critical to ensure our federal rules protect future generations.
meetings on meetings
Another important place for young people to make their voices heard is the offices of decision-makers – especially those elected to represent them. Our Colorado campus ambassadors at CSU Fort Collins and MSU Denver have been busy meeting with a mix of local and federal elected officials. They’ve spoken about local IRA investments, electrification and wildfire prevention with Fort Collins Mayor Jenny Arndt, State Rep. Lorena Garcia and staffers from Sen. John Hickenlooper’s office. By demonstrating their knowledge of and dedication to advancing climate solutions, our campus ambassadors are positioning themselves, and our program, as a valuable resource on youth climate advocacy for these offices.
UCF campus ambassadors Nicole Boisson and McKenzie Vadas also demonstrated the importance of young voices by hosting a town hall with U.S. Reps. Darren Soto (FL-09), Maxwell Frost (FL-10) and Haley Stevens (MI-11). Over 50 students attended the event to hear the representatives answer questions about IRA investments, how those investments will help address Florida’s unique climate challenges and the importance of centering environmental justice in climate solutions. Defend even received a feature on Rep. Soto’s Instagram!
“It was exciting to give students the chance to listen and ask questions to those that craft and vote on impactful legislation and to meet them ourselves!” – Nicole Boisson
The DC-based Defend team and Howard University campus ambassador Devonte King also had the chance to meet the newly elected and sworn-in Rep. Jennifer McClellan (VA-04). Rep. McClellan attended and spoke at a tribute to Rep. Donald McEachin sponsored by EDF, Climate Action Campaign and Dream.org. Rep. McClellan, the first Black woman elected to Congress from Virginia, intends to carry on Rep. McEachin’s legacy of fighting for climate and environmental justice and we cannot wait to work with her.
paying it forward
Brian Campbell is the executive director of the Iowa Environmental Council, working to make Iowa more sustainable and resilient to climate change through advocacy and education. He also helped bring Defend Our Future to Central College back in 2014! Current campus ambassadors Lauren Litterer and Anne Gregory sat down with him recently to talk about organizing strategy in Iowa, his experiences working on environmental policy as a young person and how Defend can partner with the Iowa Environmental Council in the future.
Brian’s biggest piece of advice? “Remember, you are part of a much bigger movement. It isn’t just you and your energy – people came before you, and more will come to the community after you.”
out and about
Defend continues to engage our communities of young people on the ground through community initiatives and events. Here are a few highlights from the past two months.
climate trivia with MSU
MSU Denver campus ambassadors Tariq Guidry and Taylor Lucas hosted a climate trivia night for fellow students. Though stormy weather forced the event online, it did not stop students from showing up to win prizes for answering questions about methane, greenhouse gas emissions, Black environmentalists, climate impacts on Denver and climate solutions.
SOTU watch party
We partnered with EDF Action’s Nevada team to host a State of the Union watch party at PKWY Tavern in Las Vegas. The event brought together climate-minded community members to hear about President Biden’s climate successes and his plans for the coming year. While some of us were watching from afar, our DC team was at the Capitol with our partners ensuring no one forgot about climate!
the outdoors & climate
Patagonia and Colorado Rising hosted an event that brought climate and community leaders together to discuss how outdoor industries will be hurt by climate change. Defend was excited to participate in the event, connect with like-minded organizations in Colorado and engage the hundreds of community members who showed up. Our MSU Denver campus ambassadors summed it up best:
“It was so cool to see so many people of different ages rallying around climate justice and advocating on the economic consequences climate change will have on our community.” – Tariq & Taylor
clean up time
A campus favorite – George Washington University and University of Virginia campus ambassadors each hosted cleanups to get their volunteers out and about. The UVA Defend chapter teamed up with their school’s Sustainability Club to create a game for students to play while collecting trash from their campus’ green spaces. GWU, also in partnership with their Sustainability Club (we love a perfect match), brought 30 students to a local park that needed tending.
We love to see young people out and about taking care of their environment!
Throughout Black History Month, Defend’s spring intern Nyasaina Kwomboka shared weekly reels highlighting Black environmental activists we should all be following. Here are the links to weeks one, two and three. And don’t forget to follow the highlighted activists!!
You also don’t want to miss the conversation between Howard University campus ambassador Taylor Campbell and EDF’s Cecile Brown on the importance of HBCUs, and how their experiences at HBCUs led them to work in the environmental movement.
Defend loves any excuse to educate on climate issues and celebrate climate solutions, that’s why Jessica and Morgan found some sustainable inspiration for Valentine’s Day and Nick celebrated National Margarita Day in style!