By Sam Koufman, Manchester Essex Regional High School

I often field questions about my environmental advocacy. My response has developed from a simple “we must treat the Earth with respect as we are its inhabitants” to a more interconnected one that discusses the openness and compatibility of environmentalism with the student life. Environmentalism does not require one area of expertise or interest, but rather many that allow for like-minded individuals to apply their knowledge and seek one collective goal.

This one collective goal – to care for nature and the environment – allows for the creation of different strategies to prepare us for the environmental issues we will face in the future. In my work with Green Schools and as a Green Scholar, I interact with professionals from different environmental fields of study. I am slowly gaining knowledge on why environmentalism is such an interesting field. Not only do I get to connect with some of the smartest and innovative professionals of today, I am able to shed light on the many problems we face from a student’s perspective. And I now count myself among those knowledgeable professionals due to my student environmental advocacy role.

Unlike other subjects, environmentalism and it accompanying areas of academic study are compatible with countless majors and interests. Environmentalism can be paired with other areas of expertise such as law, art, medicine, and many others. This field allows for people with intersecting interests to come together to address issues of similar concern. For example, I’ve seen scientists, mathematicians, technicians, engineers, and artists apply their many interests to environmentalism. And we see this in schools as well. Science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics are all incorporated into one acronym (STEAM) that is used in classrooms and organizations as an example set by stewards of the environment. Environmental leaders are integrating STEAM into careers and passions, often creating opportunities for others to enter into environmental advocacy.

Environmentalism creates mindful people. I am integrating environmentally conscious ways of life into my daily routines. Not only am I reducing waste, turning off my lights, and doing other green initiatives, but I am exposing my peers to alternative ways of being green with no inconvenience. Throughout my high school career, I have interacted with people from almost every state in this country, dedicated my future to bettering our Earth, and created new student practices that I know will benefit the students of tomorrow. I am incredible thankful for the programs offered at our school that directed me towards my future career as an environmental lawyer. I can comfortably say that I am a better person because of the leaders who taught me to be an environmental advocate and not a bystander.