5 Teen Environmental Activists You Should Know About

climate change
Courtesy of Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Greta Thunberg has been leading the charge against climate change and has quickly become the face of eco-conscious youth. In the past year alone, she gave a TED talk, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, she landed the cover of Time magazine, and she delivered a powerful speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit that received millions of views.

And while Thunberg’s been spending a lot of time in the limelight recently, she isn’t the only youth that’s making an impact. Below, are five teens that are also fighting for our planet – each in their own, unique way.

Autumn Peltier, 15

Often referred to as a “water warrior,” Autumn Peltier hails from a freshwater island in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory in Canada and is recognized globally for being a clean water advocate. Growing up on a freshwater island, Peltier had never experienced toxic water until she attended a ceremony at a reservation at age eight and saw a sign warning about toxic water, inspiring her to fight for access to clean water.

At age 12, she addressed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about her dissatisfaction with his policies on controversial pipeline projects. By 14, Peltier was traveling the world, speaking and fighting for water conservation and indigenous water rights. Peltier spoke at the United National World Water Day in 2018 and has received many awards for her efforts over the years, including the Canadian Living Me to We Award Youth in Action Under 12, Ontario Junior Citizens award, and the Sovereign Medal of Exceptional Volunteerism in 2017, Ottawa Riverkeeper Award in 2018, the Water Warrior Award, Young Leader Award, and was named the top 30 under 30 in North America for environmental education making a difference in 2019.

Isra Hirsi, 16

A high school student and Black Muslim woman from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Isra Hirsi proudly identifies as a climate and racial justice advocate. The daughter of Somalia immigrant and Freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Hirsi comes from a family line that has experienced diversity and the effects of climate change firsthand. Hirsi first became involved in climate activism her freshman year of high school through her school’s environmental club but has since gone on to become one of the co-founders and co-executive directors of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike. In 2018, she helped organize hundreds of strikes across the country on March 15 and May 3.

Katie Eder, 19

At just nineteen years older, Katie Eder is so committed to fighting the climate crisis that she is taking a two-year gap before attending Stanford in 2020. The young Wisconsin native is the executive director of Future Coalition, a non-profit organization she founded in 2018. Future Coalition’s goal is to foster community and collaboration among youth leaders and youth-led organizations by providing them with the tools, resources, and support they need. She also worked to create the U.S. Climate Strike Coalition and inspired thousands to participate in the U.S. Sept. 20 Climate Strikes.

Additionally, Eder is the co-founder of 50 Miles More, a non-profit working to end gun violence in the U.S., as well as Kids Tales, a non-profit geared towards teaching kids about creative writing. Over the years, Eder has received numerous awards recognizing her philanthropic efforts.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 19

At the ripe age of 19, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez’s has many accomplishments under his belt: He’s a lifelong environmental activist, a hip hop artist, a published author, and the youth director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide conservation organization. At just six years old, he began traveling the world, speaking to crowds about the effects of fossil fuels and the urgent need to protect our planet.

A Colorado local, Martinez has worked locally to get pesticides out of parks, coal ash contained, and moratoriums on fracking. He’s also a lead plaintiff in the Julianna v. United States case and Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation lawsuit, both of which aim to sue the government for its failure to protect Americans from climate change. For his efforts, he was awarded the United States Community Service award in 2013, the Peace First Prize and Nickelodeon Halo award in 2015, the Captain Planet award and Children’s Climate Prize in 2016, as well as the Univision Premio’s Ajente de Cambio Award in 2017.

Jamie Margolin, 17

Courtesy of Jamie Margolin

At 17 years old, Jamie Margolin has more on her plate than the average high school student. At 15, Margolin co-founded the youth climate organization Zero Hour alongside Nadia Nazar. The duo was inspired to form the organization after witnessing the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and experiencing difficulty breathing at their home base in Seattle after Canadian wildfires.

Zero Hour’s mission is to center the voices of diverse youth in the conversation around climate and environmental justice by creating entry points, training, and resources for new youth activists and organizations. In addition, Margolin is a plantiff in the Aji P. v. Washington case, which is suing the state of Washington for their lack of action against climate change. Margolin’s writing about climate change has been featured in HuffPost, Teen Ink, and CNN. In 2018, she was named one of People Magazine’s 25 Women Changing the World.

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