Youth climate change activists aren’t waiting to take action on global warming

Takaing steps to help combat climate change in their own community

More stories from Kylie Huang

Seeing the disparities of the world today, high school students have started taking action against climate change. 

Skyla Hatton is a junior from Mira Loma High School, and is the secretary of the Forces of Nature club.

“Our club’s goal is to educate others on climate problems in a student-led way as well as taking action to work together to help fight climate change on a small scale,” Hatton says, “whether it’s fundraising for a charity that can help or helping directly.”

For many students, this aligns with their values. Anahit Mkrtchyan, treasurer of Mira Loma Forces of Nature, describes her passion for climate change.

“I think it’s an issue that is well known, however not many people are doing anything to stop or reduce it,” she says. “I like nature and I just love the beauty of earth and our universe and I would like to preserve it as long as I can, so I try to do my best along with this club to protect our earth and environment.”

Club members have already taken steps to help combat climate change in their own community. In early March of 2020, students came to the school on a weekend to plant a tree on one of the many grassy areas.

“(We also) planted carrots in the (school) garden and gave various presentations to the club last year to spread awareness on global issues,” Hatton says. “Before we started running the club the officers before took care of a park, kept it clean and planted trees.”

Their plan is to start small and slowly add more sustainable greenery to Mira Loma. To further spread awareness of climate change and the dire effects it has on the environment, the Forces of Nature club has implemented different sustainability projects.

“We recently started gardening so that people can further understand where our food comes from and that there are more sustainable ways to consume food,” says Sophia Lane, a junior and president of the Forces of Nature club.

Lane says she hopes to make a change in the world one step at a time.

“I’m passionate about protecting the planet because I feel as if I need to express my gratitude towards it,” she says. “The reason why humanity has come this far is because Earth provides our resources and sustains life. It does so much for us, yet humans are the reason for its current state. I’m going to demand for change from those who are taking advantage of Earth, because the way we treat it is just not right.”

Lane is not alone. According to a recent study conducted by the British Broadcasting Corporation, 75 percent of students reported that the future was frightening, and more than half said humanity is doomed. Youth activists like Lane and others are certainly worried about the future, but they believe there is still hope.

Lane has worked hard to make sure youth voices are heard and are included in climate change conversations.

“Our main goal within the club is to raise awareness and help students realize that there are always alternatives to various situations,” Lane says. “I’ve done cleanups and tree plantings with and without the club. I’m also an organizer for Fridays For Future because I wanted to be a part of an organization that directly demanded action from politicians.”

Going even further, club members want to share information with the public to drive home the need to take action now.

“We want to spread awareness about serious problems that are going on nowadays that people don’t think are significant or don’t pay attention to,” Mkrtchyan adds. “We want to educate people on those issues for them to have a better understanding and be more careful about how they treat the environment.”

Lane encourages her peers to do the same, despite any challenges they may face.

“Ultimately the best way that we are going to help the planet is by fighting for change from larger corporations and politicians,” she says. “Although our club events are often restricted to helping the school and local neighborhoods, we encourage members to expand their activities outside of school as well so that they can hopefully continue to make a positive impact throughout their lives.”

To youth activists these experiences can be intimidating at first, though the progress is worth it.

“Climate activism is often a mental challenge,” Lane says. “The thought that my actions might not be effective are always in the back of my head. But knowing that there are still things left to fight for keeps me going.”

Lane reflects on her work, saying that the first step is always the hardest, but with the right mindset and with a strong drive, anything can be accomplished.

“There are no requirements to be a youth advocate,” she says. “All you need is a voice and the motivation, so never hesitate to get involved. You can start off by joining local groups and continue to expand from there.”