The fact that young people across the world are deeply passionate about environmental issues should come as no surprise. The youth of today are inheriting problems created by the generations who came before them, and they are determined to fight for a brighter, more sustainable future. Recognizing young people who are making a difference is vital because it reminds youth everywhere that they have a voice and can make an impact. Each year, Greening Forward rewards exceptional youth making a difference with their environmental efforts through Earth Saver Awards. Young people like Hasib Muhammad and Randy Priest inspire us with their work to create change in their own communities and beyond.
Hasib Muhammad, a freshman at Harvard University, connected with young environmentalists from around the nation during his time working as Greening Forward’s Vice-President of Engagement. Hasib first became interested in environmental work after returning from a family trip to Bangladesh in the third grade. The experience of seeing the link between poverty and environmental degradation was eye-opening, and witnessing how the young people of Bangladesh wanted to make a change but lacked opportunities to do so left a powerful impact on Hasib. A perceptive young man, Hasib has a knack for getting to know what makes people tick. He attributes his success to his ability to empathize with others, his strong work ethic, and his dedication to projects he is passionate about. Through his work, he has learned that he is definitely not alone in wanting young people to make a change. He is inspired by youth coming together and amplifying their voices to try and create the change they want to see in the world. Hasib hopes to always retain his youthful, optimistic perspective and continue working with others to make the world a better place for generations to come.
Randy Priest, a young environmentalist residing in Atlanta, Georgia, received the 2015 Earth Savers Club Award for initiating projects that have greatly impacted his local community and high school. Randy’s main focus is on waste reduction and considers the Anti-Litter campaign at his high school, Berkmar High School in Lilburn, Georgia, to be not only his most successful project but also his most significant personal achievement. This project involved implementing a variety of litter-removal tactics, encouraging students to refrain from littering, and promoting the idea of picking up litter as part of their civic duty. Additionally, Randy applied for recycling receptacles at Berkmar and created an eco-bench at his school in collaboration with Greening Forward’s CEO, Charles Orgbon III, and funded by the organization. Although the majority of Randy’s achievements occurred during his high school career, he first developed an interest in environmental issues in middle school, when Charles encouraged him to join the environmental club he ran. “Ever since then,” Randy says, “it has been a part of my life.” Although his involvement in the Georgia Redcoat Marching Band at University of Georgia occupies a great deal of his time, Randy looks forward to getting involved with environmental issues once again next semester, particularly in educating other students about recycling.
Both of these Earth Saver Awardees have made huge contributions to their communities through their environmental efforts. They also serve as perfect examples of young people who made a difference by joining preexisting campaigns. Just as Hasib worked with Greening Forward and Randy was influenced by Charles, young people do not necessarily need to start something of their own to have a major impact. By joining a group, project, or movement, youth can spark positive change in the environment, their communities, and the world.