Today’s post comes from Charles Orgbon, a junior in high school and founder of Greening Forward.
I grew up in a rural community where I spent much of my time on my family’s farm until I moved to the suburban community of Gwinnett County. However, I brought much of my appreciation for nature with me during this move. Troubled by my school’s littering problem and lack of environmental concern, I formed a student action team. Although we made a difference, I soon wanted to do more. I wanted to empower other youth to start their own environmental groups.
This was the brainstorm behind Greening Forward, an organization that I founded that now offers mini-grants, recognition, civic engagement curricula, skill-building workshops and an online platform for idea sharing for other young environmental changemakers. I started with just a few friends, a few people who agreed that litter wasn’t OK. We picked up trash and planted a garden. We hosted pep rallies and soon other young people at other schools noticed. Today, the network has grown to more than 500 youth in three countries who have recycled more than 20 tons of waste, saved 86,000 gallons of water, and planted 72 trees thanks to Greening Forward’s help.
Our latest project involves creating the Young Environmentalists Network on Facebook. The Young Environmentalists Network shows how young people’s (ages 5-25) captivating energy and intrinsic creativity power movements for environmental protection. As these young environmental leaders connect with one another they create an online network full of professional and personal resources. This networking allows youth to develop connections, explore opportunities, reflect on experiences and spread new ideas that each member can add to their arsenal of changemaking resources.
The Young Environmentalists Network especially highlights the unique challenges that the 21st century environmentalist has to face. Unlike many sectors, environmentalism is an interdisciplinary field. The Young Environmentalists Network combines people from all of these areas in the environmental sector into one forum. The experts in policy, education, science and communications come together to learn how can we support the global environmental movement together. That’s what’s most inspiring about the network.
I hope that our movement will be recognized for helping to change the culture of our society. As young people, our voice needs to be heard. It needs to serve as an authentic voice in the decision-making process. I challenge you to go out into your community and find the issues, bring light to them and let your voice be heard. No matter who you are and where you have come from, you can make your mark on the world. You can be a Community Action Hero.
This summer you can make your mark on the world and inspire others to do the same through generationOn’s Community Action Heroes summer program! Visit communityactionheroes.generationon.org to find out more about how you can become a community action hero the range of youth service projects you can get involved in, as well as the national recognition and prizes that you can win for your creativity and effort.
Charles is a junior at Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Ga. Charles founded an international movement of Earth Savers Clubs through his nonprofit, Greening Forward. Charles is a member of the 2011 PARADE All-America High School Service Team, an award recognizing outstanding young service leaders in association with Parade Magazine and in partnership with generationOn, the global youth enterprise of Points of Light. Charles invites readers to connect with Greening Forward @COrgbon or via Facebook. Charles champions the environment making him a hero for planet earth.