Our Power: Exemplary Young Activists—the 2021 Brower Youth Awards Winners
Co-Sponsored by the New Leaders Initiative/Brower Youth Awards
The Brower Youth Awards, named after the late, legendary environmental giant, David Brower, are one of the most prestigious prizes for youth activists, and we at Bioneers are delighted to be able to highlight the work of this year’s cohort of winners, an exceptional array of young mobilizers, organizers and paradigm-shifting leaders, who discuss their activist trajectories, the challenges they face, and their aspirations for the future.
Hosted/moderated by: Mackenzie Feldman, founder/Executive Director, Herbicide Free Campus. With: Sonja Michaluk, 18-year old NJ-based young scientist and citizen science activist, founder of the Conservation Communities Initiative, which encourages people to monitor and protect their local aquatic habitats; Peter Pham, 22, San Jose, CA-based environmental and transit justice activist with Turnout4Transit; David Baldwin, 18, Fort Lauderdale-based invasive plant researcher and activist with Everglades Restoration Ambassadors; Artemisio Romero y Carver, an 18-year old, Santa-Fe, NM-based artist, poet and organizer, co-founder of Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA) (who was also Santa Fe’s 2020 Youth Poet Laureate!).
This discussion took place at the 2021 Bioneers Conference.
Mackenzie Feldman is the founder and Executive Director of Herbicide-Free Campus, an organization that works with students and groundskeepers around the country to advocate for an end to the spraying of synthetic herbicides at schools and a transition to organic land management. Her campaign resulted in the entire University of California system going glyphosate-free, and Mackenzie worked with a coalition to get herbicides banned from every public school in the state of Hawaii. Mackenzie is also a Food Research Fellow for Data For Progress and was a winner of the prestigious Brower Youth Award in 2019 for her work with Herbicide-Free Campus.
David Baldwin, a Fort Lauderdale, FL-based 18-year old, who has done research alongside members of the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience and interned in a biogeochemistry lab at Florida Atlantic University, has been doing groundbreaking work on finding innovative land-management solutions to invasive weeds in his region. A member (since he was 14) of Everglades Restoration Ambassadors, a nonprofit that removes nonnative plants, he educates elementary school students about nonnative species using educational modules he developed. Baldwin was also just recently announced as a 2021 Brower Youth Award winner.
Sonja Michaluk, a Princeton, NJ-based 18-year old young scientist and citizen science activist who participated in her first freshwater bio-assessment as an eager six-year-old, founded the Conservation Communities Initiative, which encourages people to monitor and protect their local aquatic habitats and advocate for data-driven environmental decision making. The initiative runs a microbiology and genetics lab that facilitates use of a genetics-based bio-assessment method that Michaluk developed, which can identify the presence of threatened, endangered, and nonnative species from trace water samples. Michaluk has recently helped secure several big wins for aquatic environments, including the modification of a natural gas pipeline to protect ecologically critical land in Central New Jersey.
Peter Pham, a San Jose, CA-based 22-year old environmental and transit justice activist with Turnout4Transit, a coalition of environmental advocacy groups, labor unions, and social justice organizations, has been fighting for better public transit throughout the San Jose metropolitan region and beyond with the goals of slashing regional emissions, decreasing traffic congestion, and increasing local residents access to opportunities. This past year Pham and his colleagues helped pass a ballot measure to generate $100 million for rail services in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, and he is a just recently announced 2021 Brower Youth Award winner.
Artemisio Romero y Carver
Artemisio Romero y Carver is an 18-year old, Santa-Fe, NM-based artist, poet and organizer who helped found Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA), a youth-led nonprofit working to hold elected officials accountable for the health of the planet, future generations, and BIPOC communities by leading protests, lobbying for federal and state legislation, endorsing candidates, and educating voters. Romero y Carver, currently a steering committee member and spokesperson for YUCCA, served as its Policy Director during New Mexico’s 2021 legislative session during which three of the organization’s priority bills were passed, and was also Santa Fe’s 2020 Youth Poet Laureate.