Earth Island Reports
Announcing the 2010 BYA Winners!
Save the Date!
Earth Island Institute is proud to announce this year’s Brower Youth Awards winners. The Brower Youth Awards were established in 2000 to honor the Institute’s founder, legendary activist David R. Brower. Each year, we recognize six young people ages 13 to 22 in North America for their outstanding activism and achievements in the fields of environmental and social justice advocacy. The 2010 winners are:
Freya Chay, 15, Kenai, Alaska
Energizing the Alaskan Legislature
In September 2009, Freya Chay learned that the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly had passed a resolution supporting the idea of exempting renewable energy systems from real property tax assessments. But before homeowners could take advantage of such a program a change in the Alaska state tax code was needed. So Chay created and helped to pass legislation, Senate Bill 220, to reform state energy policy. Under SB 220, any municipality in Alaska now has the option to exempt residential renewable energy systems from property taxes. Chay’s efforts helped create new incentives for residential renewable energy.
Marcus Grignon, 21, Keshena, Wisconsin
Sustainability on the Menominee Reservation
Marcus Grignon created a program called “Greening the Schools: Honoring Our Traditions” to boost ecological consciousness in his Native American nation. The program – part of Grignon’s larger nonprofit, Citizens for a Sustainable Future – is boosting environmental education on the Menominee Reservation and gives students a chance to graduate from high school with a certificate in environmental stewardship. Grignon is also working on converting Menominee Tribal buses and vans to fuel cell power and educating eighth graders about renewable energy and social entrepreneurship.
De’Anthony Jones, 18, San Francisco, California
Fostering Service Learning
Through the group Environmental Service Learning Initiative, an organization that works in seven public high schools in San Francisco, De’Anthony Jones has worked to put social justice and global climate change at the forefront of education. Jones engages youth of color in the environmental movement through integrating community learning, environmental service, teacher-student partnerships, collaboration with community-based organizations, and hands-on learning. He is helping to create a new youth culture that takes environmental stewardship as a given.
Ana Elisa Perez Quintero, 20, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Promoting Environmental Education
Ana Elisa Perez Quintero started Grupos Ambientales Interdisciplinarios Aliados (GAIA) as a youth-led nonprofit dedicated to developing a culture of eco-citizenry through environmental groups in schools. The groups are based on an integrated curriculum that combines ecology, art, culture, and activism. As part of this work, Quintero has developed three urban gardens that serve as laboratories for students and incubators for new environmental campaigns.
Varsha Vijay, 22, Coralville, Iowa
Empowering Amazon Tribes with Information
In an effort to help combat oil extraction and deforestation in the Amazon, Varsha Vijay started Fortificando el Intercambio (Strengthening the Exchange) to share academic findings about the rainforest with the Waorani tribe in Ecuador. By improving the Waorani tribe’s access to the latest science about Amazonian ecosystems and equipping them with GPS and other mapping technologies, Vijay is helping the tribe and local NGOs to better watchdog the oil and logging industry. Vijay’s work with the Waorani is helping to preserve the culture of the tribe and conserve the plants and animals of this biodiversity hotspot.
Misra Walker, 18, Bronx, New York
Getting People to the Park
When Barretto Point Park opened in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx in 2006, it became the only riverside park in the neighborhood and one of the few green spaces in the heavily industrialized area. But Misra Walker noted that there was no transportation to and from the park, and that pedestrians had to endure a smoggy walk to get there. Walker and her teen advocacy group, ACTION, lobbied the New York transit authority for a bus route to be extended to include stops at the park. Walker’s campaign was successful, and a seasonal city shuttle bus now takes 4,000 Bronx residents to a green space they might not otherwise be able to access.