For more than 20 years, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Student Leadership Program has taught watershed sciences and real-world problem-solving skills to the next generation of Bay stewards. Our program has provided high school students with the skills necessary to be informed, active, and influential changemakers in their communities, throughout the watershed, and beyond.
With just less than five years left to achieve the targets of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, complex problems—including climate change and environmental injustices—persist across our watershed. There is an immediate need to protect and restore vital ecosystems and natural filters, like oysters and trees, and to ensure everyone has access to science-based information and environmental education.
As stewards of the environment, CBF Student Leaders recognize the need to enact lasting change and are calling on their federal leaders to listen to their voices and take action now. Their future depends on it.
Here is a transcript of the letter:
I am a Student Leader with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Welcome to the 117th Congress! We have some hopes and dreams that we want to share with you today about how we can all work together to address social and environmental issues in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. As our world is constantly evolving beyond the expectations of previous generations, we, Generation Z, feel the ever-present weight of climate change. Our futures, hopes, and aspirations are constantly impacted by these issues.
We urge you to please stand behind legislation that supports:
- Restoration efforts throughout the watershed, including oyster restoration and the planting of riparian buffers. Oysters are essential to the environmental and economic integrity of the Chesapeake Bay. Riparian buffers help to protect our waterways throughout the watershed and ensure healthy habitats for all aquatic organisms.
- Ensure equitable access to environmental information and high-quality environmental education, so that everyone can make informed decisions about, and find solutions to, problems facing their communities.
- Protection, restoration, and conservation of our shorelines and our waterways.
- Sustainable waste management practices as well as the development of programs that address waste reduction.
- Environmental Justice initiatives: All people, no matter their race, ethnicity, education, location, or economic class, have the right to clean water and healthy air, to explore and enjoy green spaces, and to thrive within their communities.
There is no perfect way to approach these issues. We don’t ask for perfection, but we do ask for improvement. It is our duty, as human beings, as individuals, as people residing on planet Earth, to protect this land and water. This watershed is our home; We must honor our home, and we must honor the future generations who wish to reside on this planet. We call on Congress to aid us in helping our environment, through official legislation within our country. We look forward to seeing all you accomplish during your term. Thank you for helping advance environmental justice and the fight for clean water for everyone who calls the Chesapeake Bay Watershed home.