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Meet Hawaiʻi’s Next Generation of Climate Leaders

Posted on November 22, 2023 .

In 2019, we launched Blue Planet Foundation’s Climate Crew program, an initiative aimed at empowering Hawaiʻi youth and preparing them for our climate future. By providing access to local expertise, professional development training, and hands-on learning experiences, we help students to build a deepened understanding of the complexities surrounding the climate challenge.

Today, we are excited to introduce our fifth Climate Crew cohort! From the rural town of Volcano to the heart of Honolulu, these 25 passionate and inspiring high school students represent the next generation of climate leaders in Hawaiʻi.

They met for the first time earlier this month at Climate Camp, a two-day, in-person program kickoff hosted at Camp Pālehua on the southern slopes of the Wai’anae mountains. Together, we explored the latest climate science, relevant climate impacts on our communities, how our electrical grid is balanced and our greatest opportunities to equitably reach 100% renewable energy, and effective advocacy and coalition-building techniques.

More importantly, perhaps, the students built genuine connections with fellow changemakers, and developed their confidence and leadership skills as the newest wave of climate advocates in Hawaiʻi.

Our favorite part of the weekend was when we asked students to share their climate story –– their why. Here’s what one student, Centelle, shared about why she’s passionate about tackling the climate challenge:

“Where I live (ʻŌlaʻa, Hawaii Island), it’s a wetland. But, over time, there hasn’t been as much rain and the natural waterways no longer flow,” said Centelle Bautista, 12th grader at Volcano School of Arts and Science on Hawaiʻi Island. “It’s weird how it seems like the norm now — it’s normal to be in a drought, it’s normal to not have as much rain, it’s normal for invasive to be lining native forests — it’s not supposed to be that way.”

Over the remainder of the program, cohort V will explore topics including equitable climate policy, environmental justice, and the human health implications of climate. Students will also collaborate to develop solutions to real-world climate challenges with support from mentors.

“It’s so inspiring to see how determined these students are to tackle the climate challenge head-on,” said Griff Jurgens, education director of Blue Planet Foundation. “They’re eager to learn, they’re in touch with their generation, and I can’t wait to see the amazing things they’ll accomplish over the course of the program.”