Students Rise Together In Call for Climate Action

“My name is Moriah C. and I’m in 5th Grade and I am 11 years old. I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn and am here today because I want to share with you my message.
I care about Climate Change because I care about animals.
We need them to survive and to live – animals are part of the food chain.
Something that affects them, like the bees, affects us all directly!
I learned about the flora and fauna in Newtown Creek, in Brooklyn where I live. Animals like heron birds and marine life, like oysters are coming back to the very polluted Creek BUT it could be better.
There could be more that we can do to keep our water healthy and clean.
More that YOU can do!
And it is our responsibility to do this.
To protect our water, to protect our animals, to protect our environment.”
– Moriah C. at the Fridays for Future Rally on March 15, 2019

On Friday, March 15th, 2019, more than 1.5 million students (most of them under eighteen, like Moriah quoted above) planned and organized events and demonstrations in 2,083 places in 125 countries to demand that their governments take action on climate change now.

According to it was the largest worldwide day of action for climate change in history. It all happened because 17-year old Swedish activist Greta Thurnberg decided over a year ago not to go to school on Fridays. Instead, she would sit outside of the Swedish Parliament to demand adults act on climate at the scale and speed the science tells us is necessary to prevent the crisis from worsening past the point of our control.

Greta inspired her generation further by speaking at several important forums and meetings such as the U.N. Convention on Climate Change 24th Conference of Parties, TEDx, and the World Economic Forum. She called her actions a “climate strike,” and started the #FridaysForFuture movement for school-aged youth. After organizing youth climate strikes in Europe, she called upon students worldwide to “strike for climate.”  Recently, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Three teens, who were inspired by Greta to “strike” every Friday in their respective communities—13-year old Alexandria Villasenor of New York, 12-year old Haven Coleman of Denver, and 16-year old Isra Hirsi of Minneapolis—created  U.S. Climate Strike to organize efforts in the United States. Their national platform includes protecting wildlife and public lands.

In conjunction with their peers, students, parents, and teachers who are active in National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program shared their efforts to organize and participate in local strikes and special events at schools across the country. In particular students in New York City and Florida reported that they were taking action because they experience the effects of climate change firsthand through extreme temperatures, extreme storms (Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irma), and regular flooding in their school parking lots and streets.

At Driftwood Middle School in Broward County Florida, students did not leave school, but they posted signs throughout the school and marched before school to greet everyone at drop off with their concerns and solutions. Learning about Watersheds, Oceans and Wetlands (WOW), students specifically called for a ban on single use plastics that are harmful to wildlife and polluting aquatic ecosystems.

Students from Driftwood Middle School in Broward County, Florida. Credit: Linda Gancitano

In New York City, student groups from ten National Wildlife Federation Eco-Schools prepared for weeks to organize a successful rally on the steps of City Hall. Council members attended and listened to speeches from students who expressed their love of being outdoors and their fears if we do not respond to the climate crisis with the urgency it requires now, the wild places and the wildlife they love will vanish.

“Come stand with us. Stand up against Earth’s destruction. Stand up for our planet! And be a bud of HOPE for nature, for life, for me.”   —   India, 5th grader, Brooklyn, NY

Photos by Teri B. Photography

The next Youth Climate Strike and worldwide day of action is scheduled for May 3rd. National Wildlife Federation stands with students who are providing an example for all of us to be better environmental stewards through civic engagement and conservation projects right now.

Eco-Schools is an internationally acclaimed program that provides a framework to help school teams of educators, students and volunteers integrate sustainability practices and principles throughout their school curriculum and engage students in active-based learning, research and projects in their community.

Learn more!