This is a guest blog by Amber Nave, one of the 2015 Champions of Change for Climate Education and Literacy, who was recently recognized by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and Administrator McCarthy for her extraordinary work to enhance climate education and literacy in classrooms and communities across the country.
These awards honor those who are inspiring students, educators, and citizens to learn about climate change and develop solutions, equipping the 21st-century workforce with the information, knowledge, and training needed to make climate-smart decisions and grow businesses in the context of a changing climate.
Read more about her work and her passion for educating the next generation of climate leaders.
Early on, I knew I had a voice and that it had influence. During my youth, I had many opportunities to find my voice and use it with purpose. Whether it was speaking at the historical Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta or hosting a TV segment on Nickelodeon News, I was continually drawn to public speaking and the performing arts to effect change. These formative experiences come to mind as I reflect on my contribution to the field of climate literacy.
I remember growing up in Georgia. We had poor air quality and I suffered from childhood asthma. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized, as a person of color, this disease disproportionately affected me. It became even clearer into adulthood that the effects of climate change would touch my community in ways that were equally unjust. In response, I’ve leveraged my early exposure to the performing arts and public speaking to become a powerful tool for captivating audiences around the subject of climate change.
I began my career working as a radio personality, then found my true purpose: empowering youth to find their own powerful voices. Armed with a fresh vocation, I started my own company traveling across the country doing motivational speaking and goal-setting workshops for organizations like Boys and Girls Club of America, CNN, and local school districts.
In 2011, I found my current home with Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), the premier youth climate education organization in the country. ACE understands that young people have the most to lose when it comes to climate change and the most to gain by fighting it. My public speaking and performance art talents were immediately put to use as I began to deliver ACE’s live in-school assembly that combines climate science with pop-culture entertainment. Since 2008, nearly two million students have been educated with this tool.
After the assembly, we give every young person a chance to take action. For some, it’s a small lifestyle change. For others, it’s a chance to participate at a deep level through our yearlong Fellowship program.
My Action Fellows receive special training in media, storytelling and the performing arts. The product of this work has been extraordinary. Some recent examples include one of my top leaders, Lauren, testifying at EPA in support of a strong Clean Power Plan proposed rule, or the inspirational “Planet Savers” anthem, a youth-written and performed song.
I was honored to receive the Champions for Change Award for Climate Education and Literacy. The award serves as a powerful reminder that this work has not gone unnoticed. I’m thankful to EPA and President Obama for their strong commitment to climate education for all.
Our student leaders were star struck this week when Administrator McCarthy made an appearance at a student climate education roundtable hosted by the White House. They were thrilled to have the opportunity to brainstorm with Administrator McCarthy regarding the best ways to engage their generation on climate change. This type of collaboration was recognized as a strong commitment by the Administration in giving youth an equal seat at the table.
Receiving this prestigious award and meeting Administrator McCarthy has reignited my drive to empower teenagers to fight climate change, starting with education.
About the author: Amber Nave, Georgia Program Manager, Alliance for Climate Education, Atlanta, GA. Amber Nave serves as the Georgia Program Manager for the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE). Through her work, Amber educates high-school students about climate science and inspires them to take action to combat climate change. To date, Amber has educated more than 45,000 students in the State of Georgia and managed over 75 climate action projects on the campuses of local middle and high schools. Amber co-managed the Youth Digital Media and Storytelling Hub at the 2013 National Powershift Conference, facilitated a Youth Media Training on climate solutions at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, and coordinated a youth letter writing campaign in support of climate action. In 2014, she and students from Dekalb School of the Arts produced an inspiring song called “Planet Savers,” which not only empowered students at their school to take action, but has also inspired thousands of students at ACE Assemblies nationwide.
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