Green Teens

by Melody Morrow

Eco18 covers many stories for little kids whose parents want to be “greener”, which have important and fun messages to share. However, we don’t want to forget about teenagers and what may interest them. I found several organizations that support the environment, all while utilizing a growing army of teenagers who want to get involved in the preservation and future planning of our ecosystem. Some of the organizations were started by the teens themselves.

Below are six programs to check out:

Environmental Youth Alliance, since 1991, the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA) has acted as a catalyst for youth led and centered sustainability programs in Vancouver, Canada and in 15 countries internationally. Through these initiatives, they have gained expertise in the implementation of community driven projects with a mission to engage youth in the inner city and recognize youth as assets and leaders in building healthy communities.

Green Youth Movement (GYM) Ally Maize, teen and founder describes LA- based GYM, as a vehicle “to educate kids all over the world on living green, and to one day establish this very important information as part of the curriculum in our elementary schools”. The mission of GYM is to educate kids and teens about environmental issues, eco-friendly behavior and small steps that can make a big difference for all of our future.

Teens for Planet Earth, T4PE, is a social networking site for teens with an interest to protect the planet. The site enables you to choose a project, connect with others and make a difference. The Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) education initiative, Teens for Planet Earth. You can join as a teen or an advisor to a group of teens. Teens for Planet Earth is an initiative of the Bronx Zoo’s Education Department that guides groups of young people through service-learning projects focused on helping the environment in their own community. The program is based on the Zoo’s award-winning Girls for Planet Earth, which aimed to increase participation by girls and young women in the conservation sciences.

Teens Go Green, Raising awareness in Manhattan and addressing the water crisis in Israel are ways teens in the Teen Greening Fellowship program are helping to protect the planet’s resources. Additionally throught the process, they develop deeper connections to Judaism and learn about Jewish life in both Israel and New York. The Teen Greening Fellowship, collaboration between the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan and Ginot Ha’ir, a community center in Jerusalem, is part of the Global Connections Initiative made possible through the support of UJA-Federation’s Commission on the Jewish People in conjunction with the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Teen Greening Fellowship includes an exchange that allows New York and Israeli teens to host one another in their homes and learn about the environmental issues each community faces, as well as see what it’s like to be a Jewish teen in each country.

Teen Green is a group of students who envision and carry out projects to preserve the environment, with the help of Uncommon Good’s infrastructure and supervision. It gives youth a leadership voice in the community, and teaches them fund raising, community organizing, the principals of environmental science and business skills. It also provides them with the essential leadership and community service experience that is essential today for a student to be competitive for college. Leadership of the group is provided by high school students, but younger students and their families, also participate as members.

TreePeople, based in LA, is one of those organizations that has many environmental stewards of various ages. The founder, Andy Lipkis, became interested in helping our planet at age 15 and his passion helped him to establish Treepeople. A Secondary Education program at the organization called Generation Earth, supports 100,000 students each year to carry out greening projects for their schools and communities, The Teen Action Program. Scout groups, after school groups, eco-clubs and other youth groups can participate which TreePeople funds on behalf of the LA Dept of Public Works.

The next time you talk to a teen, remember a little green chat may go a long way. Share what you have done today in one small way. It could be a legacy for tomorrow.

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