Izzy and the South High Green Tigers are members of Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA! MN). YEA! MN is a core program of Climate Generation, dedicated to engaging and empowering high school students to lead on the transition to a just and resilient climate future for all.
My name is Izzy Willette and I’m a sophomore at South High School in Minneapolis. Before my first year of high school, I couldn’t really define myself as environmentally conscious. As a kid, yes I loved nature, yes I loved playing outside, and yes I knew the environment was something I was supposed to care about, but why? I didn’t have a deep understanding of how important our environment really was, or how I impacted it. It was until just recently that the only thing I knew about the earth was that cutting down trees was bad, and recycling was good.
I came into my freshman year at South High not knowing many people. That pushed me to involve myself, whether it be in sports or school based clubs, I was there. One of those clubs was Green Tigers, our school’s environmental group. Not only did we discuss environmental issues, but also the socio-economic and political issues that are tied into them. It was also one of my first experiences with youth activism. It was so empowering to see a group of young people get together, pinpoint an issue they cared about, and actively try and change it. It was at this point in Green Tigers when our first hydration station was installed, and several of our members had taken a trip out to NYC with YEA! MN for the People’s Climate March. So needless, to say stuff was getting done.
Even this year Green Tigers has accomplished a lot. At the start of the year we received two more hydration stations, and had a very successful bike to school day. Some of us were even able to expand out of our school and participate in lobby day at the State Capitol. The three Green Tigers committees, Education, Community Outreach, and Compost/Recycling, have each made major developments in our school and broader community. Our Education committee just distributed their Green Tigers Newsletter, ‘Green Machine’. The community outreach committee just pulled off their Community Action and Solutions to Climate Change event, where people were able to come listen to speakers from South High, Climate Generation, and MN350 talk about ways to take action against climate change and towards climate justice. Our Compost/Recycling committee has received a grant for a new, and more efficiently organized, compost and recycling system for our lunchroom.
Towards the end of the school year our whole crew worked on Bike to School Week, with the goal of getting as many staff and students to either bike or walk to school for one week as possible. Alongside Bike to School Week, we also worked closely with the local youth organization, Tamales y Bicicletas, to co-host for a Toxic Tour bike ride of the big polluters in the East Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, hearing from impacted members of the community that live nearby.
Green Tigers has provided me with an outlet for environmental activism, and greatly educated and involved me in the causes I care about.