Today we are excited to introduce you to Maddie from sunny Southern California! Maddie began working with Grades of Green in 2010, as a 4th grades student attending St. Margaret's Episcopal School. Recently, we were delighted to learn that Maddie has been accepted to the prestigious Harvard University. As we celebrate the incredible accomplishment of one of our Eco-Leaders, we also sat down with her to see if she had any advice to offer students entering our 2019 Water Campaign.
Maddie, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! To begin, can you tell us about how you first heard about Grades of Green? What inspired you to become a Grades of Green Eco-Leader?
I heard about Grades of Green through my parents. They knew that I was passionate about the environment and since I was leading the Green Team on my elementary school Student Council, they encouraged me to seek out others who were also passionate about the environment so that I could learn from them and get ideas on how to help my school become more environmentally friendly. I am so glad that I did! I learned about mobilizing others and many skills for working with organizations, whether it was my school or my local waste collection company.
As a Youth Corps Eco-Leader, what environmental issues did you choose to address? How did you address them? Did you incorporate the community, local government, other students, or businesses?
My main focus when I was an Eco-Leader was implementing a composting program at my school. The Green Team and I worked with the Principal of the Lower School, the Head of School, and our waste collection facility, CR&R, to modify a program used for commercial restaurants to bring to our school, find effective bins to place around campus and to create an easy-to-understand signage and training program in order to teach students how to use the new bins.
Is there any advise you’d like to offer Eco-Leaders participating in our Fall Campaign?
Be persistent! You may hear no many times on the road to success, but as my mom once told me, sometimes "no" just means "not yet." It takes time to get anything worthwhile done, but in the end, everyone has the same end goal: a greener community. Find people who know more than you to advise you and don't be afraid to get creative in pursuit of your end goal. It may take several tries and iterations of your idea, but if you are persistent, you will get there in the end.
You’ll be starting your undergraduate degree from Harvard University in the Fall; do you know what you’d like to study?
I have a few things that I am interested in pursuing, but you do not need to declare a field of concentration until the end of your second year and I want to be open to all opportunities. I am planning on taking courses in several areas that interest me and then making a decision.
Has your experience in working on projects of sustainability influenced you in your area of study, or encouraged you to consider a specific career?
Yes! One area of interest for me is becoming an environmental lawyer and that is in large part thanks to Grades of Green. In addition, I'm taking a seminar this semester on US Energy Policy and Climate Change and I'm very excited!
What is one moment from your experience as a Youth Corps Eco-Leader that you are most proud of?
I am most proud of when the Green Team received a commendation from the Mayor of San Juan Capistrano's Office for our efforts to bring composting to St. Margaret's. It was proof that our school project was making a difference, and to a fourth-grader, that was mind-blowing. I couldn't believe that something that started as a lofty goal for a group of elementary school students, ended up being recognized by the city as having a positive impact on our community.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In graduate school and pursuing a career for which I have deep passion!
Congratulations again, Maddie! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!
Do you know student leaders ready to take eco-action in their community? Registration from the 2019 Water Campaign is open through September 16th!