Miami Waterkeeper is an exceptional organization that taught me how to become more involved in environmental advocacy in ways I never knew I could. During my time as a Miami Waterkeeper Junior Ambassador, Kelly Cox, the Program Director, introduced me to EarthEcho International, where I applied to be a Water Challenge Ambassador. Being part of Miami Waterkeeper and EarthEcho International gave me multiple opportunities where I was able to educate the youth and engage them in our fight for a better future and planet.
In honor of World Water Monitoring Day last year, Domingo Cortez, an EarthEcho Water Challenge Ambassador, and I had an incredible time teaching more than one hundred 4th and 5th graders during their science class at St. Agnes Academy, a Catholic school in Key Biscayne.
From exchanging emails with St. Agnes Academy’s lead science teacher and communicating with Sean Russell, the EarthEcho Water Challenge Manager, about our event for World Monitoring Day, the day finally arrived to meet the young leaders of tomorrow. Walking inside every classroom and teaching the students about climate change, water pollution, waste management, water conservation, and Florida’s environmental issues was extraordinary. The children were not only interested, but they asked question after question! More importantly, it was a wake-up call for them. Discussing South Florida’s environmental problems, such as coral bleaching and sea level rise, made the students realize how climate change impacts them and their families on a personal level. Every classroom was eager to know what they could do to reduce their carbon footprint, which Domingo and I were glad to help with. Simple changes in one’s behavior like reducing the amount of water used, unplugging devices that are not in use, or eating less meat and more fruits and veggies can help the environment immensely.
To finish up our presentation for each classroom, Domingo and I conducted a water quality activity with the students. We tested the water quality of Biscayne Bay; however, we also had a bucket of water that was “contaminated”. For the contaminated water, Domingo just added lemon juice to the water, so the children could identify the difference between healthy and polluted water. Additionally, Domingo and I made an educational game that tested the student’s knowledge on water quality, water pollution, and climate change. Seeing the children become excited over knowing the right answer, or witnessing young girls and boys correcting their classmates on certain topics around climate change warmed my heart. Taking action for the environment is crucial because we only have one home: Earth. Knowing that I impacted the lives of more than one hundred young people motivates me to continue working with the youth and continue our fight for a sustainable future.