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Greening Forward

Did you know that recycling aluminum saves the nation 95% of the energy that would have been needed to extract new aluminum from its ore? Or, that not constructing one oil rig can obviate the dumping of 25,000 lbs of toxic metals and potent carcinogens into the ocean? How about the fact that public transport, when compared with private vehicle use, produces 92% fewer volatile organic compounds, 45% less CO2 and 48% less NO?

We enter this world at a time beset with problems, staring directly at the unrelenting pressures of climate change and environmental degradation. Remedying our ailing environment, however, would be impossible without hard-won knowledge of the many environmental problems that besiege our planet. For the last several years, nonprofit organizations have been working relentlessly to raise awareness of environmental concerns among youth, and equip young people with the skills needed to mitigate the toughest environmental challenges of our time. Greening Forward, a nonprofit with the mission of sparking a diverse global environmental movement powered by youth, is no exception. A youth-led, youth-focused advocacy group, Greening Forward has taken an enlightened philosophy: young people are the future of tomorrow, and should be supported as game-changing environmental leaders and stewards.

Hasib Muhammad, Greening Forward’s Vice-President of Engagement, is one of the many untiring advocates of environmental stewardship and youth engagement. Having been involved with Greening Forward since 2012, Hasib works with the belief that young people “need to be at the forefront of environmental change”. He could not have said it better; youth not only are the critical springboards for environmental recovery through their tireless campaigning, but also form the nucleus of many volunteer movements that develop positive solutions to increasingly urgent environmental challenges. Volunteers at Greening Forward are involved with a host of initiatives, be it writing about issues like energy resources and water pollution, developing curricula to foster environmental engagement, or leading programs and workshops.

On March 7 to March 9 2014, Greening Forward will be hosting The International Young Environmentalists Youth Summit (IYEYS) at the Georgia Tech Research Institute. An entirely youth-imagined, youth-driven and youth-executed Summit, the IYEYS aims to provide “young environmentalists the tools they need to take their campaigns to the next level”. Complete with informative speeches and skill-building leadership courses, the summit is geared toward helping youth expand or kick-start a volunteer project. “There will also be sessions for adults and environmental leaders,” Hasib adds, “This summit will see a collaboration between young people and adults to create positive change.” This organic synergy between teens and adults goes in tandem with Greening Forward’s vision of uniting people in all walks of life to fight for a common goal of environmental sustainability.

The IYEYS will offer youth a chance to sharpen their leadership skills and learn more about relevant environmental issues. Its vast array of addressed topics comprises over 15 different learning areas, including Project Planning, Social Media and Branding, Volunteer Recruitment, Sustainable Agriculture, Marine and Wildlife Conservation, Environmental Justice and Waste and Consumption.

In addition to the practical knowledge students will acquire over the course of the Summit, Hasib knows that students will learn “how to improve themselves as leaders” and expand their environmental projects. He is more than sure that alongside the “good food and entertainment” provided at the Summit, youth will definitely meet new people who “will share [their] same ambition for environmental sustainability and youth engagement”.

Our environment is fraught with problems, but young people offer us hope and ideas as they pave the way and make rapid strides toward catalyzing environmental recovery. Joining the Greening Forward team will no doubt give any budding volunteer a plethora of opportunities to think innovatively, meet inspiring nature lovers, and leave a positive impact on the environment. To get involved with Greening Forward, peruse its list of open opportunities here: http://greeningforward.org/governance/staff/volunteer/