Liberty Bell High School students who visited the state Capitol earlier this month to lobby their elected officials were, from left, Stella Gitchos, Lena Nelson, Maise Shaw, Wyatt Lodato Albright and Amelia Bondi.
OLYMPIA — Five students from the Methow Valley traveled to Olympia on Feb. 10 to urge their state representatives to take action to solve the global climate crisis.
The state Legislature is considering several bills which aim to help Washington become a leader on climate issues. Students lobbied their elected officials on five bills ranging from a program that would help build community solar programs to a grant program that would help fund sustainable agriculture and forestry projects in rural areas.
This is the second year that the Liberty Bell Youth Climate Action Group and Methow Valley Citizens Council have hosted a youth climate lobby day in Olympia.
In 2019, students lobbied their elected officials on several bills, including SB 5116, which requires 100 percent clean energy usage by 2045. This bill passed the Legislature and was signed into law last year.
Several of the bills students worked on last year are again in the Legislature.
This year’s students continued to advocate for SB 5811, a bill which would implement California’s clean car standards and programs, and HB 1110, which would implement a clean fuel standard and provide funding for electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state.
Stella Gitchos, a sophomore, had the opportunity to testify in front of the House Appropriations Committee to urge them to pass SHB 2248, a bill which would expand community solar opportunities for communities across the state. A video clip of her testimony can be viewed here.
“I think it’s really important for people my age to get involved with climate issues. Visiting the capitol, speaking with representatives and giving testimony in front of a committee was honestly terrifying, but it is so amazing to have your voice be heard and to look your representatives in the eye and tell them to fight for your future. I can’t wait to keep fighting for this issue alongside my friends,” she said.
A day after Stella’s testimony, Rep. Mike Steele, a Republican representing the 12th district that includes the Methow Valley, voted to approve SHB 2248.
“This year’s lobby day was definitely the highlight of my year so far. I think it’s incredible that 15- and 16-year-olds from such a small town have the opportunity to go to the capitol and lobby on the climate crisis that we are all so passionate about,” said student Wyatt Lodato Albright.
The young delegation of climate activists met with Steele, Rep. Keith Goehner and staff members from the office of Sen. Brad Hawkins, who was unable to meet with the students because he was not in Olympia that day.
Student Masie Shaw said her favorite part of the experience was talking to Steele. “I felt like he was interested in what I had to say. I really appreciate this opportunity I was given and can’t wait to make more of a difference next year,” she said.
Students interested in participating in next year’s youth lobby day or joining the Liberty Bell Youth Climate Action Group are encouraged to contact MVCC’s Climate Programs coordinator Raechel Youngberg at email@example.com or 509-997-0888. This opportunity is open to Liberty Bell High School, Independent Learning Center and homeschooled students ages 14-20.
Raechel Youngberg is the communications specialist for the Methow Valley Citizens Council.
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