Turning Challenges into Triumphs: Teen Team’s Climate Action Journey in Maryland
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Turning Challenges into Triumphs: Teen Team’s Climate Action Journey in Maryland

The Climate Leaders Fellowship guides high school students in researching climate change effects within their own communities and finding solutions they can implement locally. Students partner with local organizations to launch their projects and collaborate with other students around the world to achieve their goals.

The fellowship is offered as a collaboration between the Stanford University Deliberative Democracy Lab and the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

Read about Edison’s experience below!

Edison Liang
Age 16
Rockville, Maryland
Thomas Wootton High School

My name is Edison Liang and I live in Rockville, Maryland. I recently turned 16 years old and am currently a sophomore at Thomas Wootton High School. My interests belong in the STEM field, and I get particularly interested when it comes to neurology, biomedical engineering, Artificial intelligence, and virtual/mixed reality technologies.

My team and I addressed climate change and the negative impacts it has on the Chesapeake Bay and its local communities. We collaborated with the American Red Cross organization to help with disaster recovery services near the Chesapeake Bay.

After weeks of preparing, planning our course of action, collecting the necessary research, sharing and discussing ideas, and contacting different people, by 11/17/23 we had our very first plan of action to host a bake sale fundraiser to collect monetary donations for the Red Cross at my school.

Unfortunately, as our planning was rushed, we weren’t able to create contingency plans for what we would do if things went wrong but I wasn’t concerned in the slightest, because come on, what’s the worst that could happen?

11/21/23: Things go very wrong.

So many things started falling apart soon enough that we had to abandon the plan and with no plan b, the idea and goal started to die out and it looked like we were going to fail the project.

Fortunately, my team had some of the smartest, most hardworking, and most reliable people I’ve ever met. Through their ideas and effort, plus the feedback I got from the Fellowship Discord, we constructed a new plan of action instead of hosting a bake sale at the local Dawson’s Market.

I went to the market myself to talk to the Marketing Manager face-to-face and she later agreed to allow us to fundraise outside the store on the weekends. We held a bake sale during the weekends and were able to raise about $69.00.

Although it wasn’t a lot, that little bit of success gave us the motivation to continue and so a few weeks later we held another fundraiser. We went door to door in a small community selling baked goods and eventually raising over a hundred dollars in cash.

In the end, we collected about $212.00 and gave it to the Red Cross. Participating in the Climate Leadership Fellowship was tiring, and oftentimes, it cut off a lot of time I could have used for things I enjoyed, but I don’t regret a single minute I spent on this project.

I want to thank my teammates, April Cheng (Thomas Wootton High School, Rockville MD),  Simen Chu (Rockville High School, Rockville MD), Ksusha Ulyanova (Thomas Wootton High School, Rockville MD), and Nathan Tran (Thomas Wootton High School, Rockville MD) for all their hard work. Their efforts carried our project and without them and their brilliant ideas, our project would have never come to fruition.

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone

Kayla joined Rustic Pathways in 2020 as the Director of Special Projects. She has nearly a decade of experience in communications and marketing. At Rustic Pathways, Kayla is dedicated to helping high school students discover their passion for exploring the world through summer travel programs. She drives impactful initiatives to empower students through meaningful travel experiences worldwide. Based in San Jose, California, Kayla loves the outdoors, live music and travel.