This is a guest post by Field Correspondent Catherine Farmer, sophomore at East Chapel Hill High School in North Carolina.
Before I went, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Leadership Training. Don’t get me wrong – I was excited, especially to work with other teens passionate about environmental issues, but I was a little afraid that the training would just end up being a rehash of what I already knew about climate change. Minutes into the training, I realized how unfounded my fears were – the training was already awesome, and it had barely started.
We began by watching the ACE assembly, which was great by itself. It presented the facts without sugarcoating them or taking the “gloom and doom” approach that a lot of climate change presentations lean towards. After being challenged by the presentation to go into our schools and make a difference, we split off into groups with others from our schools. I was with all of the people from my school, who were as passionate about change as I was, but didn’t really know where to start before the training. The Environmental Club here at school had been kind of nonexistent for a while – the people who came to meetings had great ideas, but we didn’t have the money or enough people to carry out any of those ideas.
The group of us at the training decided that our first goal was to kick-start the Environmental Club this year by entering ACE’s Biggest Loser competition. We had an idea of what we wanted to do, but it was still overwhelming to think of everything that needed to be done to make our school energy efficient. We were guided and helped by the ACE presentation and the people in charge of the training, and we soon had a definite plan in mind. Towards the end of the day, when we had gone over everything we wanted to do and how to make it happen, we filled out a form for a $200 startup grant for ACE: we all wanted to enact major change at our school, and we needed some money to do that. The grant was perfect. About two weeks later, we heard back from ACE – we won the grant! The new-and-improved Environmental Club is now looking into making our school a greener place from the inside out.
To sum everything up, ACE Leadership Training was amazing. I really feel like I became a climate change “doer” instead of a climate change “thinker”: the training gave me and the Environmental Club just what we needed to begin making the world around us a better place. If you haven’t been to a Leadership Training, look into attending one, or if you can’t, try to schedule an ACE Assembly at your school – both are incredible and empowering experiences.