“(The Austin Youth Climate Equity Council) has given me immeasurable experience, knowledge, and hope that I can make real change in my (and our world’s) future!“Annika Wood Akinmusuru
Meet Annika Wood Akinmusuru, a high school sophomore born and raised in Austin, Texas. Annika participated in the Austin Youth Climate Equity Council (AYCEC) during the 2022-23 school year. Read on for Annika’s journey into “living greenly” and advice on how parents and adult allies can support young climate leaders.
Applications for the 2023-24 cohort are open through Monday, Sept. 11th. Learn more about the AYCEC and share this opportunity with young leaders you know: https://bit.ly/aycec-flyer
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I love to express myself creatively and academically, and I always love to better myself! I have a collection of varied hobbies like acting, singing, swimming, knitting, reading, painting, and learning!
How did you first get excited about the natural world, environmental justice, or a green career?
The first thing that excited me about ‘living greenly’ was a green building project that I did in 6th grade science. We did this project online at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but designing a green tiny home, powered solely off of sustainable energy, started me in a pattern of thinking greenly. It began to influence how I look at the world and inspired me to learn more about sustainable energy, the environment, and climate change.
Who along the way has supported your passion for green leadership?
My parents and my teachers have been big supporters of my goals in green leadership! I’ve learned a lot within school about these topics, and my parents have been a really big help in taking me to and from my presentations and meetings! Along with these support systems, my group mates and sponsors from the AYCEC and some friends at Austin Energy have been incredible in helping me (and my peers) be heard in the world of climate action.
What is one way that parents and adult allies can support youth around climate action?
Giving youth the opportunity to inform themselves about climate change and climate action as well as being open and honest with us can be really helpful! It may not seem like much, but having resources and the ability to speak our mind available, as well as setting up opportunities for us to advocate for our ideas, is the best way to support us.
If these opportunities aren’t available (as I know they may not be), helping and supporting youth through education is always encouraging (even if you don’t know much). Giving us space to learn from a myriad of opportunities can be the best way to learn about climate action, especially if you’re starting from an empty slate.
What was your experience on Austin’s Youth Climate Equity Council like?
Joining this cohort has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I’ve been interested in environmental policy and climate action since early middle school, and since then I’ve been really intrigued and passionate with my learning and my career goals. But I’d never thought that making changes in my community could be so accessible for me, especially not in high school.
Since joining the cohort, I’ve learned from and spoken to many environmentalists and activists, and I’ve learned from some of the best in the local environmental justice field. In May, I presented a climate action plan at City Hall, and that group of mine has had the opportunity to present that to representatives at Austin Energy. We are working out plans to bring our goals to life as we speak. Our plans and presentations have been presented to the city in climate action policies, and I’ve had (and will have) so many opportunities to share my opinions!
This council has given me immeasurable experience, knowledge, and hope that I can make real change in my (and our world’s) future!