ashley funk

17 Years Old, Pennsylvania Plaintiff

"I feel like I have this intrinsic responsibility to help my planet and to help the people in it so ... I'm going to try everything I can to do so."


MY STORY.  I live in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania, a coal-mining town in the Appalachians.  Since I was about 14  years old, I've been determined to try and get our country off of our addiction to fossil fuels. I am trying to reach out to my community, my state, and the whole country, to tell people that we much quit our addiction.
The coal industry is deeply rooted in Pennsylvania, and I've grown up around places that have been mined.
Even though my community was mined years ago, the effects of mining still harms us today. When I was little, there were “Gob Piles,” all over my backyard.  They are the toxic remnants of coal that leave behind all these chemicals like sulfuric acid.
On top of that, we're still burning coal in my town and the ashes get into the air and water everywhere. It doesn’t make sense that people look to coal and think, oh, it's reliable energy. But the fact is, it’s destroying our environment and our future.
My name is Ashley, I am 17 years old, and I Matter.


My Concerns:

COAL health hazards
Economic impacts
of coal mining





I realized my story could make a difference.

My story takes place in my home town, an old mining community in Pennsylvania. I love my community and my state, and want my leaders to recognize the environmental destruction caused by coal mining and the effects on human health. I filed a petition for rulemaking with the PA Department of Environmental Quality to reduce carbon emissions, but they denied my petition.
My attorneys are working on next steps to address the dismissal. I don't want to give up until we are successful.

You can screen Ashley's video in your own community to start a discussion on climate change, the effects of coal mining in communities and on human health, and the effects of our addiction to fossil fuels. Using the screening guide below, and other resources, your community can become more aware of the climate crisis, tell your own story and do something about it.

Ashley's story is one of nine short films about young people across the U.S. who have been affected by climate change. This film series helps to put a human face on climate change to let people know this is about our future survival.

Tell Your Story Screening Guide


I started a club in my school to improve my community.


I walk a lot in my small community and once when I was out taking photographs, I noticed an absurd amount of litter in the water and along the side of the road.

And I kept thinking to myself, it wouldn't take that long to clean this up. Just a small group of people together could make the entire area better and improve and help our community as well as the environment. So, I called my friend and we decided to start the "Pollution Patrol."

From there I went to my township and a borough meeting and presented the idea and asked if we could be the clean up crew of Mt. Pleasant and promote environmental stewardship. We became the first "Adopt-a-Community" in Westmoreland County.


You can take action in your community too. Join the iMatter Youth Council to stand up for your future!


I investigated the issues in my town.

Find out what's happening in  your town.

I did a lot of research into environmental affects of different types of pollutants in our environment including the larger scale pollutants such as greenhouse gases, and so I kind of started exploring all these different things related to climate change.

I kind of stumbled upon the work of James Hanson because I was involved with an online community through NASA and studied graphs and reports about how much the climate was changing, and how little was being done about it.

My community gets its energy from coal plants, and residents suffer from the effects of extraction. Everything I learned led me to want to do something about climate change.

How is your town affected by coal? 

where does your town get your energy?  What do you do if it's DIRTY?