Jillian Ortega, currently a senior at Cutler Bay Senior High School, not only is concerned about climate change, she is taking positive steps to help.
“We first became aware of the climate crisis through school,” Ortega said. “Since some of us are a part of the COAST (Marine Science) academy at our school and our courses show that climate change is affecting marine ecosystems.”
In the summer of her junior year, she and a group of friends started their own climate action team in Cutler Bay through a non-profit organization, ACE, also known as Action for the Climate Emergency.
“We have done a lot toward spreading climate advocacy and doing things in our community,” she said. “As a team, we support other organizations as well as make our own events in order to inform the public about the importance of climate change and how they can get involved in many ways, whether big or small, to make a difference. In the past, our action team has done multiple things in regard to helping the environment.”
Projects they have done already include:
● Participated in multiple beach cleanups from various local organizations.
● Set up a stand at Dolphin Mall to collect signatures to have the mayor of Miami-Dade County Daniella Levine Cava declare a climate emergency in the county, for which they collected more than 80 signatures.
● Created an environmental/civics club at school.
● Conducted letter-writing and decorating climate poster events for the mayor.
● Used their social media to spread awareness of climate change occurring in Miami and around the world.
● Attended a climate “strike” outside Miami City Hall.
● Met with FPL representatives to discuss their Real Zero goal and how they plan to accomplish it.
● Collected hair from local hair salons to send to the Matter of Trust Foundation to make hair mats to clean up oil spills.
● Created a platform where students in Miami-Dade can express their concerns about the climate crisis in a safe environment.
Ortega hopes that residents of Cutler Bay will learn of action being taken in their community and how easy it is to make a difference.
“The recent odd weather conditions show us the seriousness of the climate crisis and that it will continue to worsen over time,” Ortega said. “Without us noticing, we have been adapting to climate change.”
She also hopes to encourage elected leaders to take the issue seriously.
“Government officials can help by enforcing policies to better our environment and bring awareness to the public that climate change is happening and will continue to change the way we are living.”
The group’s Instagram account is @acecutlerbay.
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