Atlanta’s Earth Tomorrow Teens Take their Voices to Georgia Lawmakers

from Wildlife Promise

In early April, over 50 Earth Tomorrow leaders from the Atlanta City and DeKalb County Schools converged on the Georgia State Capitol for the 6th Earth Tomorrow Day at the State Capitol and Georgia Legislative Field Study.

Earth Tomorrow Student Leaders with GA Governor Nathan Deal

While at the Capitol, the teen leaders attended an environmental policy workshop conducted by Atlanta-based NWF Fair Climate Leaders Imran Battla and James King to learn about the most urgent environmental and public health issues currently being debated in the Georgia Legislature. Then, the young leaders brushed up on their communications skills as they prepared to meet with Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal and legislators from their home and school districts about their most pressing environmental, public health, and education concerns.

The Earth Tomorrow leaders posed many tough questions to their legislators about alternative energy, the licensing of new nuclear and biomass plants in Georgia, the need for funding of the GA Solid Waste Trust Fund, water conservation, and the HOPE Scholarship. In addition to asking questions about the legislators’ viewpoints on these issues, the teen leaders challenged their lawmakers to act on solutions that will not only protect and improve our environment, but the health and welfare of all Georgians.

The Earth Tomorrow Day at the State Capitol and Georgia Legislative Field Study affords teen leaders the opportunity to interact with their elected officials and become more acquainted with the legislative process. The field experience also provides a forum for the students to voice their concerns about state and local environmental and public health issues and propose possible solutions to address those challenges.

Earth Tomorrow student leaders talk to State Representative Horacena Tate about lack of enforcement of illegal dumping laws in northwest Atlanta neighborhoods.

Earth Tomorrow leaders left the state capitol hopeful and inspired because they were able to realize a forum through which they can raise their voice even before they are of voting age. In the words of one participant, “This was a great experience because we got a chance to speak to our legislators about things that we care about, and they listened. I realize now that the youth of today have the power to make our voices heard and make a difference for our environment and our communities.”

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The Atlanta Earth Tomorrow Program is a high school and community club-based program that creates opportunities for teens (ages 14-18) to become environmental stewards through a year-long cycle of leadership training, issues exploration, civic engagement, career development, community outreach and education, and student-led community action projects.  NWF works with select high schools in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area, but is expanding the Earth Tomorrow Program to additional schools. For more information about the program or getting one started in your neighborhood school, please contact the program manager, Na’Taki Osborne Jelks at Osborne@nwf.org or 404-876-8733.