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Niwot student helps lead the fight against climate change


October 2, 2019

Courtesy Photo

Niwot junior Maya Beauvineau led a contingent of Niwot students to Denver for the global climate strike on Sept. 20.

Just one day after leading a large contingent to the Global Climate Strike in Denver on Sept. 20, local environmental coalition The Lookout Alliance co-hosted the Colorado Climate Crisis Teach-In, an event aimed at empowering individuals of all ages to work for climate solutions. Heading up their panel on youth activism was Niwot junior Maya Beauvineau, who is working both in her school and in her community to bring "youth voices" to the fight against what she calls "the greatest threat that we face today."

"The goal of the teach-in was providing a way for the public to inform themselves and learn more about climate change, what their role is, and how they can change their lifestyles and what they can do to prevent it," she said of the event, which drew about 60 people to Unity of Boulder. Beauvineau and her three co-panelists spoke to the attendees about youth engagement in the environmental movement, and then led an interactive activity. "It was really cool because it was a group of both youth and adults who showed up."

Beauvineau's passion for the environment was sparked in middle school.

"There's a long series of events that brought me to where I am today on the climate action, but one of the main events that sticks out to me is my seventh-grade biology class, where my teacher really made sure to emphasize the dire situation that we face in terms of the climate crisis," she said. "That opened my eyes."

But it wasn't until her sophomore year in high school that Beauvineau felt called to activism, inspired in part by teenager Greta Thunberg, who drew international attention when she went on a school strike in August 2018 to demand stronger action on climate change from the Swedish Parliament. That unleashed a new wave of student activism across the globe, and in the months since, Thunberg's advocacy group, FridaysForFuture, has inspired millions of young adults to march for a solution to what they see as an existential crisis.

Among those new activists is Beauvineau, who attended FFFs first worldwide climate strike in March 2019, and has since dedicated herself to the cause. She has been working with The Lookout Alliance and other groups to pressure local and state agencies to impose strict oil and gas regulations. She is also an active member of Niwot's Environmental Club, and spearheaded its efforts to attend last week's second mass climate protest, which attracted thousands to the State Capitol in Denver.

"The Environmental Club has really been picking up steam this year," she said. "I was really excited because we were able to get a group of over 20 students down to Denver, which really shows that the environmental awareness at Niwot High is growing. I'm really excited to keep up that trend."

Beauvineau also sees the movement growing rapidly in Colorado and beyond.

"I have a friend in Paris, also named Maya, and she posted on her Instagram that hundreds of thousands of people would show up to these strikes, and I was really inspired and honestly semi-jealous," Beauvineau said. "That's why Friday's rally in Denver was so empowering because I've seen the growth since last year in numbers showing up in the United States."

Looking ahead, Beauvineau said the Environmental Club is planning a collaborative "letter to the editor" campaign with The Lookout Alliance that she hopes will, "show our discontent with oil and gas extraction."

"We want to push policy makers at the community and state levels to keep oil and gas in the ground because that is one of the biggest issues we face with climate change," she said. "We really want to show that the youth are aware that this needs to stop."

She also encouraged mindfulness when it comes to climate action at the individual level, a common theme at the teach-in.

"Some of the things you can do as an individual are definitely being conscious of your consumerism and asking yourself, 'what impact do my actions have on the environment and beyond my own life'."

Beauvineau knows that Boulder County is more proactive on climate change than many local jurisdictions, and feels grateful for actions such as the county-wide moratorium on drilling and other sustainability measures. She also knows that the area has more than its share of concerned citizens. But at the end of the day, she said that even more is needed.

"I'm inspired every day by everyone who joins and everyone who talks to me about anything environmentally related," Beavineau said. "But the science is still clear that we need concrete action, and to me that looks like laws being put into place at the government level, so I think it's absolutely important that we really focus on that as our ultimate goal."


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