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The outdoors has such a profound impact on our lives. Without the outdoors I would not be the same person that I am today nor would I have found my passion for sustainability. CYL has set me up with opportunities to engage in this passion area from conferences to workshops. I remember the exact moment that sparked this passion, a zero-waste event at one of CU Boulder’s basketball games. As a volunteer for this event, my job was to go around a top sort waste bins for any items that were misplaced. I was also there to help educate the students around me on where certain items belong. I quickly realized that my job was not needed. Everyone around me was extremely conscious about where their waste goes. This pivotal moment inspired me to think more broadly about how I could continue to educate those around me so that they didn’t have to think twice about which bin something goes in, just as these college students’ brains were trained to do. 

Continuing to explore this new passion of mine, I found every meeting, conference, and service adventure on this topic. One meeting, in particular, caught my attention because I got to speak with adults whose jobs were in this specific field. To be able to hear about the work they are doing and to understand how truly meaningful it is was eye-opening for me. Quickly after this meeting, I rearranged my senior year schedule so that I could take Environmental Chemistry and pursue this interest of mine. Now in my senior year, I am enjoying this new class along with being involved in Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado’s Youth Carin Program. This program has helped me discover new ways to volunteer in the outdoors by teaching me how to protect and improve our beautiful backyard. They have partnered with CYL in many ways to ensure that I am supported in this area of interest. For example, both VOC and CYL helped lead the 2022 Youth Environmental Stewardship Conference. During this conference, I was able to meet other students who are passionate about this exact issue. From forest bathing to fire mitigation restoration, I built skills that I can confidently say will help me better understand the role I play in improving sustainability.  

These service adventures inspired me to push for greater climate change awareness in my own community, specifically at my school. I started small by creating my school’s first environmental club. I lead students through multiple projects including creating waste signs, buying portable sinks where students could rinse out cups and bottles before recycling them, and researching ways to xeriscape parts of our campus. Our largest project was taking care of the 5th biodigester in the country. Having it new to our campus, I had to take a class so our club could help teach the younger students where their compost goes and how we can use the soil to help our campus garden and fields. Quickly a parent club was formed and a new faculty position was added, Head of Sustainability. I realized that although I was not able to help the whole world respond to climate change, I was able to make a push for sustainability at my school. 

CYL has been a key factor in discovering this area of interest by providing me with many opportunities to ignite this passion of mine. I find it moving to look back on myself only a year ago and see that I was just beginning this new path of mine. It all started with one simple CYL service adventure but has now turned into a broad passion that I have implemented in my greater community. I will always be forever grateful for the time and effort CYL puts into its students so that each and every one of us is capable of finding an area of passion and purpose.