NSHSS co-founder Claes Nobel, who was known to use “Good Earth to you!” as his favorite greeting, encouraged all of us to treat every day as if it were Earth Day by taking action and doing our part to preserve, protect, and tend to this beautiful planet we call home.
For Earth Day this year, NSHSS hosted an annual virtual panel featuring three NSHSS environmental changemakers with moderation by Captain Planet! Each student panelist earned a grant or award for their creative solutions to the environmental issues in their communities and the globe! The Captain Planet Foundation was founded based on the critically-acclaimed animated series Captain Planet and the Planeteers and now works collaboratively to engage and empower young people to be problem-solvers for the planet.
In this special Earth Day conversation on April 20, the panelists talked about what inspired them to get involved in environmental issues, the inception of their projects, what they did in high school, college, or internships to give back to their community, and promote sustainability, discussed a handful of ways students could get involved in their local communities to give back to our planet, and more, followed by a live Q&A!
View the recording of the event below!
Earth Day Is Every Day Virtual Panel
“In the grand scheme of life, the good earth is our most cherished prize. I like to greet people by saying, ‘Good Earth!’ Say it now. Out loud! GOOD EARTH! It feels good. Those positive feelings (caused by endorphins) can help you do great things.” –Claes Nobel, NSHSS Co-founder
Sixteen-year-old Chase Hartman co-founded a non-profit called Eco Brothers and an award-winning book distribution project called “read.repeat.” and has been focused on improving literacy rates and helping the environment for the past six years. He’s collected and distributed more than 200,000 books and impacted the lives of more than 45,000 students in Hillsborough County, Florida. Chase champions the need for more books-with-diversity and dual language books in local Title-1 schools and has worked to raise more than $110,000 to support this cause and various environmental projects. Chase is an Eagle Scout and Student Government Vice President at Sickles High School in Tampa, Florida. The following awards have recognized his community service: the Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Team Community Hero of Tomorrow award, Florida’s Prudential Spirit of the Community honoree, and the EPA’s President’s Environmental Youth Award winner. He serves on the Points of Light Youth Council, promoting volunteerism to young people across the country. Chase’s goals are to continue competing in swimming at the collegiate level and earn bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Psychology.
Niveda Mahesh is a high school senior attending Woodbridge Senior High School in Woodbridge, VA. She is a three-sport varsity athlete in rowing, field hockey, and basketball. She loves strength training at her local gym if she does not compete on the water, field, or court. She is a passionate leader in her school and community. She is currently the President of her school’s National Honor Society. As the Founder and President of her nonprofit organization – 4Girls 4Change (www.4G4C.org), since February 2021, she has helped raise over $18,000 to support several ongoing projects in her local community. Today, these projects support a wide range of healthy community-related activities, including – homeless shelter and support services, food donation drives, COVID-19 relief efforts, and clothing drives for Afghan refugees. Niveda has also been an active Girl Scout since third grade. In August 2022, she won the most prestigious Gold Award for her “Reducing Food Wastage in Local Restaurants” project. She is a passionate environmentalist at heart and plans to major in college in environmental science, with a focus on policy, governance, and sustainability. Her long-term goal is to become the Chief Sustainability Officer of a socially responsible and earth-centric company.
Will Charouhis is a seventeen-year-old environmental changemaker from Miami, Florida. Aiming to exert whatever influence he can on the climate crisis, he serves as a National Youth Leader in Dr. Jane Goodall’s Institute and the youth delegate for National Wildlife Federation and America is All In. In 2019, after experiencing the effects of climate change firsthand when Hurricane Irma flooded Miami, Will founded Forces of Nature, leading the youngest organization accredited by the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. A published author on the climate emergency, Will publishes a blog on his journey to COP and is a contributing author to The Invading Sea. It is Will’s great honor to serve as a recurrent panelist nationally and internationally with environmental icon Dr. Jane Goodall on the strength of youth and the power of hope. An unexpected advocate with a quiet but determined voice, Will is already leading on a global stage, sharing the GenZ perspective as the youngest American at COP25 in Madrid and COP26 in Glasgow and as a US Climate Action Hub youth representative. Will has submitted testimony to the White House Environmental Justice Council and was widely published for his work in having Miami declare a climate emergency. “A firm believer that innovation, scale, and the human spirit can solve the climate crisis,” Will is pioneering funded research on the artificial selection of mangroves to withstand ocean acidification and warming at a small lab space he resourcefully procured at the Aquarium Educational Center. Scaling up his A Million Mangroves Initiative, Will has shared his research by speaking at United Nations conferences this past year in NYC, Glasgow, Stockholm, Bonn, and Lisbon. Touting mangroves as nature’s best solution against climate change, he has already drawn in partners in Australia, Gabon, the Dominican Republic, and Fiji, sharing his mangrove research in the hopes of increasing restoration efforts along the Western African coast. A relentless voice that it is time for his generation to act, Will’s organization has provided disaster relief to 1100 families in Honduras, Haiti, and the Bahamas, countries Will says “are least responsible for carbon emissions but most affected by climate change.” As a Director of the Miami Youth Climate Leadership Board, he works alongside leaders from 8 high schools across Miami-Dade to provide climate education to more than 2500 students in 16 countries. At school, Will has served all four years on the Environmental Sustainability Council, leading efforts with his peers to implement meatless-Mondays, eliminate single-use plastics, and recycle electronics, books, and uniforms. This year he is leading the Students for Solar in a plan to install solar panels on the roof of his school’s new STEM building by December 2023. In recognition of his tireless efforts in service to his community, Will was the only youth in Miami-Dade County and one of the youngest in the country to be awarded this year’s Congressional Award Gold Medal with STEM recognition, the highest honor the United States Congress bestows upon youth civilians. He also received the Barron Environmental Prize for his mangrove conservation work and was recognized as a Young Social Impact Hero. His work is currently being featured in mini-documentaries in production by Inspiring Young Heros and Blue Missions. While he is honored by the awards, Will’s focus remains acutely forward and solution-based. When the State Department invited Will to meet with Barack Obama at COP26, former President Obama encouraged Will’s generation to transition from advocacy to action. Taking the advice to heart, Will believes it is past time for his generation to act. Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly this Fall, Will told world leaders: “Youth are the doers.” We are the “Yes we can thinkers. We are innovators. And we will change the world if you let us.” He is already showing up-every day-leading his peers, and even the adults in our community, in creating a sustainable world.
Claes Nobel, of the Nobel Prize family and Co-founder of NSHSS, was a passionate advocate for environmental causes. In fact, his favorite greeting was “Good Earth to you!" He encouraged all of us to treat every day as if it were Earth Day by taking action and doing our part to preserve, protect, and tend to this wonderful planet we call home. Watch the video for Mr. Nobel's special message.
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