Making a Difference: Profiles of the Youth Leadership Board

Youth Leadership Board (YLB) is the Environmental Volunteers’ first in-depth program designed specifically for teens. This year-long program provides youth with training in environmental science, STEM job skills, and team building skills that acknowledge and embrace group diversity. Students have the chance to exercise new skills and knowledge by developing a capstone project of their own design, focusing on environmental stewardship. Click here to see the EV Water Project, the culimnation of the 2014-2015 cohorts’ work on water conservation and drought education.

Below, you will find profiles of several participants in the 2015-2016 cohort of YLB. Here, YLB members reflect on social change, personal power, and responsibility for the environment. As you will see, these young leaders are inspired to make a difference!

Developing Confidence

“This summer, I traveled to Honduras as part of the Operation Wallacea program to collect data in Cusuco National Park. This helps researchers to gain funding to protect the area, as it is a water source and a home to many endemic species. During this trip, I experienced firsthand the effort required to inform the local population of how to sustainably harvest resources, rather than depleting them. My experience put me face-to-face with the impact humans have on the environment.
“I’ve always been a little on the shy side. I wish to become more involved in my community, and am seriously considering pursuing a career in environmental science. Being a part of this program allows me to interact with other members of my community and truly make a difference. You have the power to change your life. You can lack power if you lack confidence. I want to create change and have a direct impact in my community.”
-Supreethi Penmatcha
Junior, Mountain View High School

The Generation of Change

“The absence of change can result in destruction. At the current rate which people are creating pollution, a lot of life will start to die. Inappropriately using Earth’s resources will lead to horrible things if there is no change. As an individual, not much change can be done. But, by inspiring others, a lot of change is possible. There is still time to change and make our world a better place.
“As teenagers, we lack the power of being trusted. Trust is usually gained with a reputation, which can take decades to build. But, we hold the power to change the future, since we are the future. We can be the generation of change and have a positive influence on people.”
-Josh Shamelashvili
Sophomore, Homestead High School

Sharing Ideas

“Sometimes, I come up with ideas that I want to share, but I don’t always share them because I am afraid others will judge me or will think that they aren’t good. But when I have a goal, I am determined to carry it out to the end. I want to be able to see the outcome I am trying to achieve. I am used to doing things independently, and I want to be able to collaborate and share my ideas with others without being hesitant.
This summer, I went to Esteli, Nicaragua where my delegation and I had the opportunity to swim through the Somoto Canyons. When I was lying on my back and floating down the river, I was able to see breathtaking rocks and greenery. The beauty made time seem endless. This opened my eyes and made me appreciate nature, that if we don’t maintain places like these, they will become more and more difficult to find.”

-Sabrina Diaz Erazo
Senior, Independence High School

Spreading the Word

“I feel that I have a limited amount of power; I am only one teenager in the middle of the Bay Area, and I only personally know a tiny amount of the population of the world. However, if I spread the word to those people that I know, they can share with their small population of familiar people, and so on.
“It would be wonderful if everybody was able to experience the environment like I do. Perhaps if we all took a step back, we could see the bigger picture. Every time I am at the top of a mountain, I think about how humans have taken away so much of the peacefulness. I know we cannot undo the progress of the human race, but we should be able to use our technology to protect the wilderness and reduce the amount of damage to our planet.”

-Brooke Doblar
Sophomore, Presentation High School