Then: Minnechaug Regional High School (Wilbraham), class of 2000, Envirothon Rookie of the Year 1999
Now: Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Commonwealth of Massachusetts; @EEASecretary on Twitter
How did Envirothon shape your high school experience? Envirothon allowed me to pursue something I was passionate about, environmental science, policy and public leadership, that was really outside of course curriculum. While we were fortunate enough to have an ecology class in high school there weren’t many opportunities to learn about environmental policy or how students could make change in their own community. Envirothon really highlighted this opportunity, and allowed me to consider my career path for the future. It also gave me more time with some fabulous teachers, Mrs. Vickers and Mrs. Dickson who were superstar teachers. They helped so much to turn our team into confident environmental advocates and scholars.
Did Envirothon influence any life choices you’ve made, regarding college or job? Envirothon let us meet other students around the state leading environmental efforts in their communities and also focus on a project within our own community. I think the public service aspect of Envirothon is much more important that the sort of environmental literacy competition aspect (although that’s fun too!). I really believe young men and women have significant power to lead environmental efforts in their communities and I think Envirothon is a perfect vehicle for this.
What does Envirothon mean to you? For me now, Envirothon means the opportunity for Massachusetts young people to learn to love, study, and protect the natural world through leadership, active engagement, and knowledge. I hope we can continue to use Envirothon to get real results in communities (I truly believe students are sometimes best positioned to lead environmental efforts), to increase the environmental literacy of students and their parents and teachers, and to make real progress on environmental challenges like climate change. We need to engage as many young people as we can.