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Earth Island News

Brower Youth Awards

 

Billy Parish Christina Wong Shadia Wood Hannah McHardy Lily Dong If there is a bright spot in four years of darkness under the Bush administration’s destructive environmental policies, it is the young activists who have stepped forward to challenge them. The federal government’s recent rollbacks of protections for endangered wildlife and old-growth forests, refusal to address catastrophic climate change, and slashing Superfund money for toxic waste cleanup helped inspire the winners of the 2004 Brower Youth Awards to seek solutions at the local and regional level.

Lily Dong
As a seventh grader, Lily (16, South Pasadena, California) began what became a four-year campaign to protect and restore the last remaining undeveloped area in her city. The four-acre site is part of the ancient Arroyo Seco, one of the largest tributaries of the Los Angeles River, which over the years has been filled for development, including Pasadena’s Rose Bowl. By using the site for science education field trips, she demonstrated to public officials and the community the value of leaving it wild. Lily’s Arroyo Seco Woodland and Wildlife Park opened to the public in October.

Hannah McHardy
Hannah (18, Seattle, Washington) led demonstrations protesting timber giant Weyerhaeuser Corporation’s destruction of old-growth forests and hand-delivered 2,000 letters to Weyerhaeuser’s CEO. She successfully lobbied the state to reform logging practices on 1.4 million acres of state-owned lands. She and her classmates also convinced their high school to switch from using virgin fiber paper to 100 percent post-consumer recycled.

Billy Parish
As a student at Yale, Billy (22, New York, New York) started The Climate Campaign to take aim at global warming. He mobilized students on more than 130 campuses to take action to change their state governments’ and schools’ energy policies to reduce global warming emissions and bring alternative energy technologies into the mainstream. Both Connecticut and Massachusetts have now agreed to reduce their emissions to meet targets in line with the Kyoto Protocol.

Eugene Pearson
Eugene (21, South Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and his colleagues on the student council turned the tables on rising college fees by requiring that their money be spent to “green” the University of Colorado. Under the agreement, all new buildings must exceed the Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver standard for design and run on 100 percent renewable energy. CU-Boulder’s new green building standards are the strongest of any university in the country.

Shadia Wood
At age seven, Shadia (17, Newport, New York) attended a kids’ conference on toxic waste where she learned that New York’s Superfund, established to clean up the state’s worst toxic sites, was going bankrupt. She became a leader in Kids Against Pollution and spent six years lobbying to restore Superfund. She even opened a lemonade stand on the steps of the State Capitol to raise money for the fund. Last year, Governor George Pataki signed the bill to refinance Superfund, with Shadia and her fellow lobbyists looking on.

Christina Wong
A student at University of California at Berkeley, Christina (21, Sacramento, California) founded a campus chapter of the League of Conservation Voters and helped re-engage students in politics on this historically active campus. Christina also recruited 20 student interns to dedicate a month to registering voters in swing states as part of a national campaign aimed at electing environmentalist candidates to office in 2004.

The 2004 Brower Youth Awards were presented on September 30 in Berkeley, California.

   

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