September Member of the Month: Eden Vitoff

Written by Eden Vitoff

I have always had a strong passion for the Earth. I was raised in a family that taught me the value of caring for and preserving the environment.

It was only in 7th grade however that I was first made aware of anthropogenic climate change, when I read a book in class on the drastic effects of global warming. The book discussed the droughts, the floods, the famine, the fires that happen all over the world as a result of climate change. I learned about the sea levels rising and the rising rate at which the world’s animals and plants are becoming extinct. I continued reading and waited for the happy ending that would say that the problem isn’t as bad as it sounds, and that climate change wouldn’t affect me. I never found that ending.

Eden speaking at a rally for the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill

Eden speaking at a rally for the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill

I was so confused and frustrated. Why is this problem not being solved? Why, if this is such a dire issue, and if there is such overwhelming scientific consensus, is there not more being done? I would learn later that the issue of climate change has been politicized, that carbon polluters spend billions of dollars perpetuating misconceptions about global warming. These companies place profit ahead of the well-being of life on Earth.

I decided then that I could not sit idly by and watch the repercussions of climate change take their toll. I would not be a bystander in the fight for my generation’s future.

Since that time, I’ve become actively involved in making my community a green and healthy place to live. I’m now the president of my high school’s environmental club, and with other passionate students in that group I have helped to spearhead several long-lasting environmental efforts in my city. We’ve formed environmental partnerships between the school and the city, started community-wide recycling drives, encouraged schools across our district to use renewable energy alternatives, and have engaged our community in a conversation about the environment through hosting an eco-friendly acoustic concert for Earth Hour.

Eden (left) in Toronto after petitioning with the Climate Reality Project

Eden (left) in Toronto after petitioning with the Climate Reality Project

In addition to this community involvement, I’ve also contributed to a number of statewide and national environmental initiatives. I’m a founder and executive officer of the Green LYFE Network (Leading Youth For the Environment), a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and empowering passionate high school students to speak out against climate change. I was also trained by former Vice-President Al Gore through the Climate Reality Leadership Corps to give educational presentations on global warming.

I have served on the iMatter Youth Council since January of this year, and I am so excited to be a part of a national team of like-minded and motivated students. Through the iMatter campaigns we’re planning, we will be able to reach out to kids of all ages across the nation and spread our message of environmental awareness. When we all band together for a common cause, so much can be accomplished.

Eden Vitoff is an iMatter Youth Council member from Edwardsville, Illinois. To learn more about his non-profit, the Green LYFE Network, you can reach him at eden.vitoff@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/GreenLyfeNetwork.

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