More than 40 Florida A&M students will represent the university at the Energy Action Coalition’s Power Shift Conference in the nation’s capital this weekend.
According to the Power Shift website, the coalition convened the first national youth climate summit at Power Shift 2007. More than 6,000 young people from all 50 states gathered at the University of Maryland on the outskirts of D.C. for a weekend of training, action and inspiration.
With more than 10,000 participants from colleges and universities like Middlebury, Carnegie-Mellon, Clark Atlanta, Howard, Fordham and others, Power Shift is the largest gathering of young adults addressing the climate crisis in the United States.
The FAMU Green Coalition, under the leadership of Larae Donnellan, public relations sequence coordinator in the School of Journalism and
Graphic Communications, is providing the cost for transportation, lodging and registration for the participants. In exchange, the students will be expected to earn 20 points by volunteering at Green Coalition events, recycling on campus and writing letters to politicians and newspaper editors about environmental issues.
“It is important for FAMU students to learn more about the issues because research tells us that people of color and poor people are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis,” said Donnellan, who will be attending the April 15 – 18 conference as well.
She said students do not feel connected to these issues, because they do not know how it relates to them.
Ashli Doss, the newly elected parliamentarian for the Green Coalition, admitted it was easy for a lack of awareness to lead to apathy of environmental issues because she was once unaware of the ongoing problems.
“I didn’t know and I didn’t care,” said Doss, 19, a second-year broadcast journalism student from St. Petersburg. “That’s a problem; there are so many students who have that attitude.”
Doss decided to attend the conference after being nominated by a journalism professor to attend the clean energy summit. She hopes to become more knowledgeable about the environment after attending the conference and going to workshops that address the area of campus sustainability.
“I’m interested in learning how African Americans and HBCUs can get involved with the climate crisis,” Doss said.
She also emphasized her willingness to help her fellow students learn about environmental issues when she returns from Washington D.C.
“It’s going to take the whole Green Coalition to make a change on campus,” she added, referring to high incidents of waste, litter, and the lack of recycling.
With abnormal patterns weather patterns surfacing across the world, Donnellan asserts that the time to get involved with the climate crisis is a pressing issue.
“There is a greater sense of urgency now,” said Donnellan. “The climate crisis is more real than it was two years ago.”
Although the students who participate in the conference are charged with translating the information they learn into projects that will educate their peers about the environmental issues, Donnellan extends that charge to every student at FAMU.
“We can’t think that it is someone else’s job to come up with a solution,” Donnellan said. “Each of us must do something.”