Philadelphia/ Politics & Govt
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Published on April 02, 2024
PennDOT and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Seek Ambitious High Schoolers for Eco-Stewardship ProgramSource: Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful

As the fight for a cleaner Pennsylvania marches on, it is the youth leading the charge. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful are calling on high schoolers from grades 10 to 12 to step up and serve as environmental stewards through the Young Ambassadors of Pennsylvania program.

The initiative, in its third year, is on the lookout for eco-conscious teens eager to make a difference in their communities, and it isn't just a volunteer gig—the program is a breeding ground for future leaders, dedicated to nurturing a sustainable vision for the state. According to a statement obtained by PennDOT's news release, intended ambassadors will plunge into training, rub shoulders with industry honchos, and gain valuable exposure through interactions with the press and the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful network, aiming to make them civic leaders adept at confronting local and broader environmental challenges.

"Pennsylvania needs leaders. Like many other crises that require long-term change, we're looking to the youngest of us to help lead environmental sustainability into the future," PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll said, noting the importance of engaging youth in these efforts. Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, echoed the sentiment, highlighting the richness the diverse backgrounds of the students bring to the table, "It has been enlightening to work with students from diverse backgrounds and cultures through our Young Ambassador program, they each bring their own experiences and aspirations that have helped shape the program."

Selected students pledge to become ambassadors from September 2024 through May 2025, during which they'll tackle tasks like attending six virtual education sessions conducting a community assessment, and putting together a summary presentation— not to mention organizing and headlining at least one community cleanup via Pick Up Pennsylvania along with hosting an educational event or activity; these commitments underscore the hands-on approach of the program to instill a sense of responsibility and activism in participants. To top it off, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will arm these young visionaries with knowledge on a slew of relevant topics such as the consequences of litter, waste management, and the art of volunteer coordination.

Beyond the training, the program also offers invaluable networking possibilities, laying the groundwork for budding environmentalists to develop professionally, a facet made even more concrete through the provision of Job Shadow Days as part of a partnership with Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, funded by the NiSource Charitable Foundation. This entire endeavor was set in motion by the commonwealth's Litter Action Plan put forth by the Governor's Office back in November 2021, and it's been funded by PennDOT ever since.