Congratulations to our 2024 High School Student Semifinalists!

Meet the incredible high schoolers and high schools and discover their inspiring stories.

Burlingame High Schooler Jayden Wan, Co-Leader of San Mateo Youth Climate Action, and Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action were selected for their work to empower teens and young adults to combat climate change through impactful education and climate policy initiatives. This organization collaborates with local government and institutions to make meaningful impacts in the Bay Area community. 

16 year old Natalie Roberts and her fellow seven Utah plaintiffs from across the state were selected for their leadership when they filed a constitutional climate lawsuit against the state of Utah, Natalie R. v. State of Utah – a case which argues that, through its statutory policy to maximize, promote, and systematically authorize the development of fossil fuels in Utah, the State is actively causing and contributing to Utah’s hazardous air quality and dangerous climate crisis impacts, harming the young plaintiffs and violating their state constitutional rights to life, health, and safety. The case is currently scheduled to go before the Supreme Co2024 urt. 

Princeton Day School students Michelle Xu, Sophia Zhou, Arden Reilly, Zarah Cardona are National High School Climate Forum’s Executive Team – a student-run organization that aims to promote discussion, exchange ideas and solutions, and unite high schoolers across the nation from diverse backgrounds under the common cause of addressing climate change. NHSCF does critical work to foster dialogue surrounding environmental justice and advocacy, helping high school students challenge each other as we all become change-makers in their local communities through monthly newsletters, speaker events and the NHSCF Annual Youth Summit.

Food waste is the 3rd largest contributor to climate change. The connection between reducing food waste to fight climate change isn’t made often even though it is a simple, yet effective solution. Richard Montgomery High Schooler Shrusti Amula is the founder and visionary behind the Rise N Shine Foundation which has collaborated with county, state legislatures and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and other student environment leaders, with their joint efforts resulting in the creation and approval of State bill SB 124 / HB 150, allocating $1.25 million for Maryland schools to implement composting and food recovery programs. Over the past four years, the Rise N Shine Foundation has orchestrated a staggering diversion of 142,852 pounds of food waste, equivalent to planting 942 seedlings for a decade or abstaining from driving 141,709 miles. Today, they operate composting initiatives in 12 and food recovery programs in 50 + schools. 

Applicant Fairview Net Zero Club (Fairview High School) advocated for the Green New Deal for Schools resolution in Boulder Valley School District, calling for the installation of solar panels on all district school buildings lacking them, free public transportation for middle and high schoolers, a comprehensive climate curriculum, pathways to green jobs and preparing students with climate disaster plans for when increasingly severe and common climate disasters strike. On November 28th, the school board passed the Green New Deal for Schools Resolution, making their district the first in our nation to pass this initiative.

17 year old, early high school graduate Adah Crandall is a climate justice organizer from Portland, OR who focuses on the intersection of climate and transportation, opposing the expansion of several freeways in the Portland Metro area and advocating for better public transit. Adah is currently on a gap year working full-time for the Sunrise Movement’s Green New Deal for Schools program, supporting hundreds of students around the country to run local climate justice campaigns.

Suffield High School students’ Walk to the Hart program is a student-teacher collaborative focused on empowering today’s youth as future stewards of the planet by building connections, fostering dialogue and furthering the role of students as community leaders. 

Students from Hopewell Valley Central High School stood out for their advocacy work to address an issue they see as disproportionately impacting their generation: climate change and its impact on mental health.

Youth 4 Climate is a group of passionate high school students organizing a campaign dedicated to urging Governor Newsom to stop issuing new oil and gas permits, begin justly phasing oil extraction and create a 3,200 ft buffer zone.

For more information: acla@ecoamerica.org

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