As the discussion surrounding climate change legislation enters the Minnesota House of Representatives, Edina High School sophomore Maddy Fernands has been actively involved in several environmental organizations that connect activists with legislators and politicians.
Her work with organizations such as Minnesota Can’t Wait and the Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEAMN) has allowed her to advocate for climate change legislation. Her journey began at EHS, where she joined the school’s environmental club and found that she was fascinated with environmental issues. “I joined Project Earth during my freshman year and I was on the Edina Energy Commission as well. Because of the opportunities that were brought up by those organizations, I started to realize that I had a passion for environmentalism,” Fernands said.
Her climate activism has allowed her to see the different effects of climate change, including those that are not as apparent today. “It’s really important to emphasize the topics concerning climate change that aren’t as widely talked about. A lot of people talk about winter or the Boundary Waters, but they don’t talk about food deserts,” Fernands said. She hopes to bring awareness to this, and other lesser-known aspects of climate change.
Fernands, along with other organizations, are pushing for the Minnesota Green New Deal, a bill inspired by New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed legislation in the United States House of Representatives. The Green New Deal is a bipartisan piece of legislation that focuses on newer technology and making Minnesota a more financially competitive state through the implementation of renewable energy. The Minnesota Green New Deal was introduced on February 11 at the Minnesota Capitol building.
Fernands emphasized the role that students must play in advocating for our planet. “It’s not the politicians who make the change, but the activists who do,” Fernands said. Students looking to become involved can join Edina High School’s Project Earth club or submit an application to be a junior commissioner with the Edina city council. For those who want to make a statewide impact, YEAMN and Minnesota Can’t Wait are organizations that provide students with a host of opportunities.
“It’s really important to jump in right now and to take initiative. Any action is an important action,” Fernands concluded.