When I was going through the public school system, there was no such thing as environmental education, not in the way that it exists today. The only integrated outdoors time we had was recess and, on occasion, gym class. This was an era when phones didn’t yet have screens and computers were still large, bulky boxes designated to one room on campus. Tablets were still a distant future too, something that today is commonly incorporated into classrooms. For my generation, childhood was centered on spending time outside. Perhaps this is where my love of nature was instilled, deep in the backyard woods of my Midwest hometown.
This connection to the natural world grew as I did, manifesting into a career as a marine scientist, which has allowed me to see, first-hand, how climate change affects our world’s largest ecosystem. I’ve studied reefs over the course of three years and observed coral bleaching, which has, among other experiences, provided me with the perspective to understand just how fragile these systems are. And while I may not have grown up with an iPhone or touch screen tablets, there is something else the youngest generations has on their hands that I didn’t in my youth: the climate crisis.
Young people are calling on their leaders to implement change on a crisis that will affect their generation most. This fall, the global climate strike brought together more than 1,000 people in PVD, many of whom were students striking from school. They are the climate fighters of the future who have decided that the science speaks for itself, and it’s saying that climate action has to happen now. Students’ ability to recognize the power of their own voice is something I was unable to distinctly recognize within myself at a young age. A major component, one that history has shown time after time is required for a group to speak out on an issue, is education.
In an upcoming series of articles that aims to uncover what inspires environmental stewardship in the young people of Providence, I’ll explore what’s being incorporated into education locally, such as grants that fund schoolyard habitats and programs that recognize school sustainability practices.
Follow this upcoming series at motifri.com