Editor’s Note: This week we’ll be featuring stories of people working to make a difference either at home, working with students, in the community, or working within local governments. The Green Awards were sponsored by Green Giant and the winner received $25,000 to continue and expand their work. The runner-up finalists each received a $2,500 prize. The project was supported by Green Giant and 19 environmental organizations, including Bioneers, the Rainforest Alliance and the Nature Conservancy. For more information on these and other Green Awards finalists and winners, please visit www.thegreenawards.com.
The Green Local Organizer category was created to honor an individual who launched an initiative outside of business or government that is making a positive social change in the community.
Cate Arnold of Boston, Massachusetts is the grand prize winner in the Green Local Organizer category. She created a program at her school called “Giant Youth Leaders” to work with the next generation of environmental leaders in middle school and high school. What started out as a small after-school program at one school has grown to a youth network at 20 different schools around the country. In addition to holding a yearly youth summit to get the students engaged in the climate crisis, Arnold is working to build a green roof on one of the schools within her community. The Award will allow her to continue to work with more students in other schools and continue to inspire future environmentalists.
Jeff Chen, founder of Pickin’ Up America, was one of two finalists as the Green Local Organizer. We’ve profiled Jeff and Pickin’ Up America before on Trailblazers. He has created a team of volunteers, who are traveling across the United States in a bus and spending their days picking up trash. They are also working with communities they pass through to generate awareness about litter and waste.
The other finalist project in the Green Local Organizer category is Community Orchards. Heidi Coe lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and has already harvested over 39,000 pounds of fruit from homeowners’ backyards and donated the food to local food banks and shelters. In addition to collecting fruit from individual families, the team has also worked with local governments to collect fruit from orchards on public lands and also on corporate campuses. They will be using the award money to increase the amount of fruit they are able to collect and share it with those that need fresh fruit the most.
Photo provided by the Green Awards