Meet Some of Baltimore’s Youngest and Brightest Green Leaders

With help from the Patterson Park Audubon Center, students in Baltimore are teaching their peers about issues surrounding climate change.

A couple of weeks ago I came across a video about climate change initiatives at the hands of several well-versed middle schoolers dedicated to helping the environment. I thought to myself, why not head down there to Patterson Park Audubon Center and meet some of them?

So I took the train down from New York and, after a three-hour journey, found myself in Baltimore for the first time.

Since I had a few hours to kill, I decided to spend the morning walking around, getting footage of the beautiful Baltimore Inner Harbor (I'm coming back to visit the National Aquarium), trying the Maryland Shake Shack (same as the ones in New York!), and preparing mental notes for my afternoon interview with two of eight Green Leaders, Johnathan Lee, a seventh grader, and Shayla Chapple-Bell, a rising high school freshman.

Once I was done wandering around the seaport, my camera, tripod, and I hopped on an Uber and headed to Patterson Park, which acts as the students’ outdoor classroom.

The interview took place under a tree near a bird-friendly habitat with native plants that other students have planted. It created a comfortable atmosphere for everyone involved. I asked the kids a handful of questions, but mostly went with the flow of conversation.

  • If birds could speak, what do you think they would tell people about how their actions affect their homes? 
  • What’s the hardest part about trying to tackle a topic as complex as climate change? 

They spoke their minds freely, laughed, played a "Repeat After Me" game, and taught me a thing or two about turning off the tap while I brush my teeth. It was inspiring to see young kids passionate about protecting our planet. Both Johnathan and Shayla understand that taking action is as easy as being compassionate towards all living things, and are trying to make a difference in their own way. With all the bad news in the world—I was headed to Baltimore while protests decrying police brutality were going on—it was refreshing to see the next generation fighting for a cause that benefits everyone.