“Providing pathways for youth to lead the way on climate change is a critical step. Their sense of urgency is understandable given the state of the world we will be passing on to them. There is much to be gleaned from youth energy and ideas.””Lucia Athens, the City of Austin’s Chief Sustainability Officer
The second cohort of the Austin Youth Climate City Council was a group of youth leaders focused on improving health and well-being within their communities. EcoRise and the City of Austin, Texas, collaborated to support these high school students in becoming environmental leaders with opportunities to play a role in shaping the future environmental policies of their city. Through monthly workshops and immersive field experiences, Councilmembers learned about local climate change issues and environmental justice history, as well as skills like collaboration, design thinking, and leadership. The program also provided networking opportunities with professionals, laying a strong foundation for the students’ future careers.
The Austin Youth Climate Equity Council used what they learned to design tangible solutions that engage communities in the City of Austin’s Climate Equity Plan and advocate for policy and systemic changes.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of the current climate injustices in their neighborhoods, council members conducted research and actively engaged in community outreach. With a shared vision of a more equitable Austin, these young leaders developed data-informed Community Impact Projects and presented their recommendations to city leadership and the community on May 11 at the Austin City Hall.
Expand the teams below to learn about this year’s Councilmembers and dive into their Community Impact Projects.
The Natural Systems Team worked to increase community access to and positive perceptions of public land. They surveyed Austin residents to understand their access to and feedback about their local green spaces. They discovered that public green areas in Southeast Austin needed the most improvements. They created a plan for the city to collect community feedback about open spaces considered for improvements, led by high school youth compensated for their work.
Ananya (she/her), 15
My name is Ananya and I am a junior at Anderson High School. I represent District 10. I wanted to join the council to raise awareness about how climate change is humanity’s biggest crisis and how it exacerbates the existing inequalities and injustices in our society. My deep connection with the environment and the joy nature gives me pushes me to be the voice in our community that helps preserve the ecosystem around us.
Eden (she/her), 17
My name is Eden and I am in 12th grade at Northeast Early College High School. I represent District 1. I joined the Council to learn something about the environment and what could be done to help it for the better.
Jasmine (she/her), 15
Hello, my name is Jasmine, and I go by any pronoun. I am in grade 10, and I attend Kipp Brave. I wanted to participate in this Council because I want to save our planet, and I want to see streets filled with plants and not trash. I am currently in a school club to help our school find ways to help our planet. I mainly joined this club because I enjoy seeing life and people being happy. Seeing the streets lined with trash and animals suffering because of it is always saddening. One of my goals in life is to be able to see plants and animals more than trash and unhappy people. I hope to see our city clean and happy with all the new plants and trash bins so people will litter less.
Sofia (she/her), 16
My name is Sofia and I am in 11th grade at Austin High School. I joined the Council to learn how to help my community and solve issues concerning climate change and waste and water management. I have been interested in conservation since middle school, and I hope to see reform implemented to create a greener community in Austin. I represent District 5.
The Electric Vehicles (EV) Team wanted to find ways to encourage community members to consider switching to an EV. Their survey found that the most significant challenges were a need for more education about affordable EV options and the inconvenience associated with the time it takes to charge an EV. Their solutions included organizing community events centered around EV education and beautifying public electric vehicle charging stations through mural art. They aim to foster a sense of community engagement and pride in sustainable transportation solutions by involving local artists, businesses, and residents in creating and promoting EV education and mural art projects.
“It’s important for young people to bring realism and idealism to city planning. Young people know the problems that all communities face and can especially give insight into the financial struggles associated with the current market of electric vehicles. On the other hand, young people must also be involved in city planning to motivate others to keep working towards sustainability.”
—Electric Vehicle Team reflecting on youth engagement at the city level
Annika (any pronouns), 14
My name is Annika, and I’m a freshman at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. I represent District 2. I joined the Council to learn about the world and how to become a better citizen. I’ve always been interested in the environment, and I hope for Austin and the world to work diligently toward saving our planet.
Felix (he/him), 17
My name is Felix and I’m a senior at Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School. I represent District 7. I wanted to join the Council because I plan on going into engineering, a field that will require more and more sustainability knowledge. Unfortunately, sustainability is not typically taught in classes, so participating in this program can help me incorporate more sustainability into my work. I love being outdoors and hope to “give back” to it by assisting Austin to be a more environmentally friendly city.
Maryam (she/her), 16
My name is Maryam. I am a junior at L.C. Anderson High School, participating in the IB diploma program, and a proud representative of District 10. What motivated me to join the Youth Climate Council was the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded and passionate peers to promote change for our future. I am very enthusiastic about the chance to apply my skills to advocate for climate justice and help shape Austin into a more eco-friendly city. This Earth is the only home we have, and it is our responsibility as the future to use our voice and do our part in helping stop the detrimental effects of climate change. Having close connections with the beautiful coastal city of Alexandria, Egypt, climate change has particular significance to me because it could lead to the loss of many invaluable coastal towns worldwide. My love for the beach and traveling makes me passionate about advocating for climate change reforms and environmental protection.
Michael (he/him), 15
My name is Michael. I am a 10th grader at Kipp Austin Brave. I joined the Council to be a part of something that helps make a difference. I hope to make Austin better.
Natalie (she/her), 17
My name is Natalie. I’m a senior at Austin High School and represent District 5. I wanted to learn more about my community and how I can help it. I have done volunteer opportunities cleaning various parts of Austin, and I hope to see Austin enforce and become more strict with environmental safety.
Riley (he/him), 14
My name is Riley and I am a freshman at Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School. I represent District 4. I wanted to join the Council because I want to expand my knowledge of climate change, and I want to make a change in my environment. I recently participated in the River Watchers during the summer and enjoyed interacting with and helping the environment.
The Community Food Fridges Team aims to provide free, nutritious food to Austin neighborhoods where it is otherwise not accessible or affordable to the public through community food fridges. Their plan prioritizes the location of these fridges based on socioeconomic factors and needs. They will seek donations and partners that prioritize sustainable packaging to reduce the environmental footprint of donated foods. Fridge locations will also offer education about sustainable food packaging and composting.
Amber (she/her), 17
Hi. I’m Amber! I’m currently a senior at Akins High School. I represent District 5. I joined this Council to receive hands-on opportunities to better our city! I love nature and exploring, so I am here to do everything I can to preserve our planet <3
Autumn (she/her), 17
My name is Autumn and I’m in 12th grade at L. C. Anderson High School. I represent District 1. My goal in joining this Council is to learn more and spread awareness of how issues that affect the environment equally affect us. I hope to see nature’s beauty applied to communities everywhere, regardless of location and living conditions.
Cecilia (she/ her), 16
My name is Cecilia and I am an 11th grader at McCallum High School. I represent District 4. I wanted to join the council to become more involved in making a difference for Austin and my community while learning about climate politics. I’ve always been interested in the environment, climate change, and equality and racial equity in a community. I want to learn more and make a difference in these fields.
Isa (she/ her), 14
My name is Isa and I am a 9th grader at McCallum High School. I represent District 1. I want to save the polar bears!! I hope to see less pollution and help people live more sustainably.
Neha (she/ her), 14
Hello! My name is Neha and I am in 9th grade and attend Bowie High School in Austin, Texas. Represent District 8. I wanted to join the Council because I am very interested in racial equity and climate change and want to make a difference in the world. I have also been very passionate about fighting global warming since I was young. I hope that in the future, Austin becomes more sustainable and reduces its carbon footprint. I am so excited to start on the council!
The Transportation Team researched ways to promote and improve affordable public transportation options, to decrease traffic-related emissions in Austin. Through a community survey, they found that making public transportation more accessible, convenient, and safe will increase its use. They recommend revitalizing bus stops with creative artwork by offering paid student art internships. In addition, they recommend prioritizing hygiene and cleanliness to further improve the user experience by implementing a paid position for keeping public transport clean.
“We enjoyed the experience of getting to know each other better, gaining valuable experience, and working towards the betterment of our city. This project helped us learn more about our city and environment and how we can continue aiding with climate solutions. Our experience here has shown us how important it is for young people to partake in city planning and decision-making. We can always bring a new viewpoint to the city.”
Bini (he/him), 16
Hi, I’m Bini. I attend McCallum High School, and I’m a junior. I represent District 7. I wanted to join the council to learn more about how my city is trying to help the environment and even try to help them if I can. I feel that the environment is the biggest threat in the coming years. I believe that every city can do more to stop climate change.
Grace (she/her), 15
My name is Grace. I attend McCallum High School and am in 10th grade. I represent District 4. I wanted to join this Council to feel like I was making a difference more than just wishing for something to change. I hope to see in the future a more environmentally educated Austin that focuses more on how to help its citizens regarding the climate instead of profit.
Ronak (he/ him), 16
My name is Ronak. I am a junior at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School. I represent District 8. I joined this Council to spread awareness of climate change and how to fix it. I want to create a spark in my community that extends to my friends and family, starting a chain reaction that helps stop climate change.
The Austin Youth Climate Equity Council is led and facilitated by EcoRise in partnership with the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability. We sincerely thank the Office of Sustainability for their valuable contributions to supporting the Youth Council and for being dedicated partners who firmly believe in the program’s mission. Together, #WeRise! If you are a high schooler or know any students interested in joining the Austin program, please contact Celine@ecorise.org.