Today, environmentalism is being featured in the media more than ever and we see many accomplished people who have gone to great lengths to contribute to the environmental movement. Recognizing these people is important and they deserve to be celebrated, but there is another group that sometimes goes overlooked: the younger, up-and-coming environmentalists who are in the early stages of changing the world. In recognition of Women’s History Month, this post will feature a few women environmentalists who are just beginning to make their mark on environmentalism.
Audre’ana Ellis is a senior at Howard University in Washington DC, she is majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Political Science. During her time at Howard University, Ellis has found a passion for representing people of color in the environmental movement. She has completed an internship with Howard University’s Office of Sustainability, served as the Sustainability Department Policy Advisor for Howard University’s student government, studied abroad in Jaipur, India, and co-founded the Howard University Student Sustainability Council alongside Destiny Hodges and Travis Flowers to bridge the gap between students and administration while advocating for sustainability on campus. Ellis is currently a Curriculum and Project Specialist at Generation Green, a youth-led organization of Black environmentalists that addresses Black social justice issues. After graduation, Ellis wants to work as an Environmental Justice Advocate and obtain a Juris Doctor degree. She plans to use her knowledge of sustainable development and social change to fight for environmental justice and represent marginalized communities that are impacted the greatest by environmental hazards.
Isra Hirsi is a high school student in Minneapolis, Minnesota that has been advocating for the environment since her freshman year after joining her school environmental club. Hirsi is the daughter of congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of the US Youth Climate Strike, which led hundreds of strikes across the country in 2019 for climate justice, and former Development Director for a Gravel Institute think tank. Hirsi has often told crowds that “Climate change is the fight of [her] generation, and it needs to be addressed urgently.” This is because she knows what impacts climate change can have on people and has seen how people in other parts of our world are suffering – especially people like her family in Somalia experiencing rising temperatures and drought. Her dreams to change the world and diversify the environmental movement are what drive her to strike and speak out as an environmental justice organizer, progressive political consultant, Black Lives Matter activist, and a leader of other young voices who otherwise not have the opportunity to be heard.
Kristy Drutman is a 2017 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and a climate activist who is passionate about her work that integrates media, diversity, and environmentalism. While studying at UC Berkeley, she helped to create the Students of Color Environmental Collective to encourage diversity in the environmental movement on campus. Her interests include environmental storytelling and organizing which she uses in her current positions of Assistant Lecturer at UC Berkeley, Marketing Content Coordinator at Mayfield Renewables, and Content Producer for her own podcast Brown Girl Green. In this podcast and her associated social media accounts, she is able to strategize new approaches to and advocate for environmental education. She hopes to use her platform as a bridge for traditionally left-out communities to reach the current environmental narrative. In Brown Girl Green, Drutman interviews environmental leaders and promotes diversity and inclusion, especially in the workplace. As a proud Filipina American, she would like to see more people of color involved in the environmental field and hopes to influence what a 21st-century environmentalist looks like. Drutman believes that art, mindfulness, and relationship building are at the center of successful sustainable activism and stresses the importance of self-care in the environmental movement as well.
AESS will be continuing to recognize young environmentalists and telling the stories of how they are working to save the planet.
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