Ani’s Climate Story

Ani LakeFor as long as I can remember I’ve lived in a small, rural town in Vermont. Summers were dedicated to family canoe trips, hiking, camping, gardening, and enjoying the outdoors. Fall and spring were spent playing sports outside, as well as helping out around our yak farm and the local farmer’s market. Even during the cold Vermont winters I was always outside alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, having snowball fights, ski camping, trying out biathlon, or just taking the dogs for a walk. My parents cultivated a deep appreciation of the outdoors in me. Living in rural Vermont, I think it’s easy to take the outdoors for granted because it’s so abundant where we live, but my parents made sure I knew how lucky I was to live in such a beautiful place.

My mom has worked for climate nonprofits for as long as I’ve been alive. I remember sitting in her office and looking at maps of watersheds on the walls or listening to her explain how she works for climate nonprofits to other people. I was always very proud to say that my mom was working to prevent climate change. I think my love for the outdoors combined with my mom’s work in climate organizations naturally led me to be passionate about preventing climate change.  When I was younger I always thought that it was a job for adults, but I’ve since realized that climate change affects everyone and no one is too young to be involved.

At the beginning of my junior year of high school, I started a Sustainability Club at my school. Once a week, almost twenty dedicated students show up at the school early to work on different projects. One of our biggest projects is a ban the bottle campaign, which would prevent our school from selling single use plastic bottles. The first winter the club was in existence was awful; there was very little snow, and our valley, which makes a lot of its money off of ski tourism, was hit really hard. It was definitely a moment that confirmed the importance of the work I was doing, because winters are only going to get worse as climate change progresses. It’s been really rewarding to see how many people do care about the climate, but don’t know how to get involved, and so I’m always inviting new people to join because I really do think that everyone has some connection to the environment and everyone will be affected by climate change

Ani Lake 2My passion for protecting our planet naturally led my mom to invite me on the Climate Hike she was doing through the organization Climate Ride. We spent four days hiking and one day rafting in Glacier National Park. It truly was a life-changing experience. I was most inspired by the people I met. As I’m in the midst of my college search process, it was great to meet so many people who have made a living out of what they love and care about. I was amazed by how many people are dedicating their lives to preventing climate change and how passionate they are about what they do. I was also in awe of the views. Every step of every hike exposed a different beautiful view. One of our hikes was to Grinnell Glacier. At the trailhead, there is a series of pictures showing the glacier’s retreat over the past several decades. When I was up by the glacier I kept thinking that in ten or fifteen years it may not be a glacier anymore; it may have melted too much and be too small to be considered a glacier. That is one of the many effects of climate change, and it made me sad thinking that the next generation may never see the beauty of that glacier that I was lucky enough to experience.

Going on that trip got me really fired up to do more for our planet. I’m looking into becoming an ambassador for Climate Ride so I can spread the word about their different programs and hopefully inspire more people to do what they can to make a difference. I also know that I will continue to be active in preventing climate change, whether it’s through student clubs, volunteer work, or a career. I’m so grateful to my parents for showing me the beauty of the outdoors and know that I want to continue to work to protect our planet for future generations.

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