Written by Brooke Crouch, PGC 2018 Finalist
It was my senior year of high school – I was applying to college, struggling through AP classes, and trying to figure out the next steps for my life. I had always considered becoming a teacher, but I wasn’t quite sure about this career path. I knew that I wanted to make a difference, but I didn’t know how. I felt lost and purposeless, and I didn’t like feeling that way.
Then, Project Green Challenge (PGC) entered my life.
I had signed up on the urging of a friend several months before, but had since forgotten. My interest was rekindled because my twin sister was participating and winning amazing prizes for her work, and I wanted to win some too! I got involved in PGC halfway through October, and my whole world shifted. Though I started because of the prizes (they were pretty incredible), I kept going for the extraordinary information I was learning. The short time I participated in PGC was enough to make me seriously reconsider what I wanted to do with my life.
As high school graduation passed and college was approaching, I was filled with agonizing indecision. My brief experience with PGC had opened my eyes to a whole world of problems that I couldn’t ignore, but I felt like I didn’t have the skills to address these environmental issues. I wasn’t a scientist or a politician, so what could I do to fight for environmental and social justice? I had many internal debates, where my heart told me to become an environmental activist but my head told me to stick with the path I had always told myself I would follow. I entered college intending to major in education, choosing to stick to the safer path that I was familiar with.
Then, October rolled around again and I decided to participate in PGC once more, this time from the very beginning, and I fully immersed myself in the topics. I began to see how I could impact change using the skills I already had – I didn’t need to be a scientist or a politician, I just needed to use my voice to fight for what I believed in.
I began to see how interconnected education and environmental justice were, and I knew that the part of me who loved teaching could educate people about the environment and inspire change.
After a month of learning and growth, I was selected as a PGC 2018 Finalist and traveled to San Francisco for PGC Finals. I met, and was inspired by, so many leaders in the environmental community; what’s more, I saw the wide variety of types of people and jobs needed to fight for environmental justice. I also met other PGC Finalists who, just like me, had a diverse array of interests but all wanted to direct them towards environmental and social justice.
I came away from PGC Finals with a renewed purpose and a determination to be a leader and fight for the future that I wanted to live in.
My experience with Turning Green continued after PGC Finals, when I hosted a Conscious College Road Tour stop at my college. Again, I was amazed by the level of change I could generate merely by educating other students about environmental issues, and I realized that this was my passion; educating others to create change in their lives and in their communities.
I am interning with Turning Green this summer, helping to craft PGC 2019. I will return to the University of Virginia in the fall, now studying Environmental Science and Global Sustainability. My goal is to work for an environmental nonprofit that focuses on educating the public and inspiring them to become global citizens and activists. I believe that everyone has the ability and an obligation to make the world a better place, and I know that together we can create a future we all want to live in.
If you’re thinking about signing up for PGC 2019, get ready for a life-changing month! No matter how much you decide to participate, the way you look at the world will never be the same.
Sign up now at https://projectgreenchallenge.com!