Middle and high school students offer solutions in YWL’s Climate Change Video Competition  – by Lili Jaquet

In April, AAUW’s Young Women Leaders hosted video competitions for middle and high school students. The participants researched topics related to climate change and created three minute Youtube videos to share their knowledge and offer solutions. Even as quarantine closed their schools, competing students continued working hard on their projects and are now offering some tips and tricks for how to stay eco-friendly during lockdown.

Sydney Wohlgemuth of Britton Middle School won first place with a video on factory farming and the damage it inflicts on the planet. Also, Britton students, Sabrina Lim and Elizabeth Richardson won third place with their project on soil pollution, a lesser-known but highly impactful aspect of climate change. They suggest switching to solar, using less plastic, and working with the government to create laws that protect the planet. Thomas Kouwenhoven from Oakwood Middle School won second place for a video on global warming. He stresses the importance of being mindful of how you travel and recommends that everyone find some way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

Thomas’ brother Quinten, an Oakwood High Schooler who won second for his video on pollution, said of the experience, “the competition helped deepen my understanding of climate change and has pushed me to want to spread awareness.” Quinten suggests avoiding air travel and eating locally-grown foods.

Megan Gill of Monte Vista and Kyla Spencer of Sobrato won first prize with a project inspired by a middle school teacher who challenged students to design a method of traveling from one place to another while creating the least amount of carbon emissions possible. They suggest walking to and from errands, when possible, and creating a compost system that can then be used to grow your own food.

Though these six remarkable young people are as different as they are brilliant, each one of them possesses that incredible ability to look towards an unsteady future with excitement and unwavering passion. When asked about their plans for the future– a question that many teens respond to with “what future?– Sabrina and Elizabeth eagerly outlined two career paths rooted in using science to help others. Quinten and Thomas, both avid (and gifted) soccer players, shared how the game remains a key part of their daily routines and how staying active has provided them with the outlet they need to remain positive. Kyla is working on a novel with a non-profit organization, and Megan has been swimming every day to maintain her skills for the next chance she gets to compete. Despite the daunting reality of the world around them, they remain confident that progress will be made, and that the future will be brighter than we dare to believe. So long as young men and women like them can find the inspiration to stay hopeful, I believe that better days are on our horizon.


Winning Videos

High School – 1st Place: Ways to Cut Down Greenhouse Gas Emissions


High School – 2nd Place: Pollution


Middle School – 2nd Place: Global Warming


Middle School 3rd Place: Soil Pollution