Six young changemakers from across Maine were honored with the latest round of Brookie Awards by the Natural Resources Council of Maine for their leadership and effectiveness tackling a wide range of environmental issues.
The diverse group includes college and high school student activists and scientists, ranging in age from 16 to 26. Each is creatively implementing solutions to environmental challenges facing Mainers from climate action and clean energy to safe drinking water and wildlife conservation.
“The contributions these young leaders have already made are incredible and give me great hope for the future of the environmental movement in Maine,” said NRCM CEO Lisa Pohlmann. “We’re grateful to every one of our winners for leading by example and pushing us all to build a healthier, more equitable future for Maine’s environment and communities.”
The Brookie Awards is a statewide program hosted by NRCM Rising, the young member arm of NRCM, to elevate and amplify the voices of the rising generation of environmental leaders in Maine.
The 2022 Brookie Award winners are:
• Noela Altvater of the Passamaquoddy Reservation at Sipayik who is an indigenous clean water advocate and community leader who amplified the voices and stories of her family’s daily struggle with polluted and toxic water. Altvater fought for passage of LD 906, a law to ensure that Passamaquoddy tribal members will have access to clean drinking water moving forward.
• Lucas Healy of Castine is president of the campus sustainability club at Maine Maritime Academy and advocated for renewable energy curriculum to be taught on campus to prepare students for clean energy careers.Healy and his team built an operational wind turbine and testing facility for faculty to integrate into their classes.
• Kosis Ifeji of Bangor is a youth climate justice activist who serves as co-chair of the Nature Based Education Consortium’s Climate Education Policy Advocacy Working Group. Kosis led a grassroots campaign to pass LD 1902 which provides grant funding for climate change education in Maine’s public schools.
• Kiara Frischkorn of Biddeford is president of the University of New England Biddeford campus sustainability club where she organized a series of beach clean-ups that engaged fellow students and community members in reducing waste.
• Anna Siegel of Yarmouth is the Maine Youth Action Campaigns coordinator, a founding member of Maine Youth for Climate Justice, and serves on the Yarmouth Committee for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability. She led the campaign to pass LD 99 to divest the Maine public employee retirement system from fossil fuels.
• Greg LeClair of Waterville is founder of Maine Big Night, a citizen science project that collects data on amphibian road crossings and mortalities and advocates for solutions. He has collaborated with the Maine Department of Transportation on infrastructure funding and solutions to protect Maine’s amphibian species.
“Maine has a long and proud history of environmental leadership, and our 2022 Brookie Award winners are building on that legacy,” said NRCM Rising Director Todd Martin. “From York to Washington County, from coastal communities to rural towns, our 2022 Brookies are working to protect the woods, waters, and wildlife that make Maine such a special place to call home.”
More than 50 young environmental leaders across 14 of Maine’s 16 counties applied for a Brookie Award. Candidates were evaluated on leadership, creativity, collaboration, and positive impact on Maine’s environment. Each Brookie Award winner receives a $2,000 cash prize, a short video about their work, a six-week public speaking and speechwriting training, and an invitation to a nature-based retreat with their fellow winners where they will participate in skill-building sessions and engage with other environmental and political leaders in Maine.
The Brookie Awards were made possible by the generosity and early partnership of the Quimby Family Foundation and the Louise H. and David S. Ingalls Foundation. To learn more visit: https://www.brookieawards.org/