Iesha Baldwin

Roles at NAAEE:

30 Under 30

Iesha has a deep passion to protect the environment and to create ways to effectively solve environmental issues. Her experience working and volunteering has given her a well-rounded skill set to create solutions and to have a positive impact on low income communities. During the summer of her freshman year, Iesha worked with the Grand Canyon National Park as a diversity ambassador for the National Park Service through the Greening Youth Foundation. While at The Canyon, she worked to protect the environment through educating Grand Canyon visitors about conservation.  She also worked to educate herself on the culture and history of indigenous nations. She learned about the Hopi people from a native tribe member which exposed her to a new perspective about Native Nations. It was this experience that helped mold Iesha into a person that works to sustain both land, culture, and the health of people which she one day hopes to do at a global scale. She found that protecting oceans, watersheds, and bodies of fresh water around her is one path to reaching these goals.

After leaving the Grand Canyon, Iesha started the #RefillNotLandfill project at Spelman College to spread awareness about plastic pollution and the danger it has on marine wildlife, wild animals, and human beings. This project came to fruition when she received a $1,000 grant from the Pollination Project. The project’s goal was to provide students and faculty of Spelman College with an alternative option to consume safe drinking water without the usage of plastic water bottles. Iesha and her colleagues worked hard to provide people with alternative options such as BPA glass bottles instead of plastic bottles. Iesha knew that eliminating plastic water bottles from the lifestyles of students and faculty members at Spelman will subsequently change the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean. Iesha also started a petition that would permit Spelman College to build more water refill stations throughout the school in order to help people cut down on the amount of water bottles that they consume.

While planning #RefillNotLandfill at Spelman, she began to work with the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance where she volunteered for a year. During her time there she was able to educate youth at the Tuskegee Airmen Academy about conservation, watersheds, the importance of turning off water while brushing one’s teeth, taking short showers, and the water cycle. Iesha has found that volunteering at elementary schools across Atlanta is very rewarding because she is able to engage in positive educational activities with students that are in need of positive role models.

Iesha also is active in attending The Proctor Creek Stewardship meetings held in Westside, Atlanta where she works with community leaders to identify solutions to the challenges facing the Proctor Creek  watershed. In addition to her attendance in manifold meetings, Iesha conducted water testings with elderly members of the community that help them learn more about the safety levels of the water around them. In the spring of her academic year, Iesha traveled to D.C. in order to speak with members of congress about environmental issues pertaining to food insecurity.  She spoke about local food security,  sustainability, and the amount of fast food restaurants that were located near low-income communities such as the West End and how this greatly impacts that health of black families. Iesha also worked with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in order to help protect this river that sustains nearly 4 million people. She works to build the financial base for the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper to ensure research, fellowship, educational programs, and community events continue to happen throughout Atlanta and Georgia. Iesha has helped protect the environment by using her experiences to spark others to converse about environmental issues and helping minority groups become aware that what happens in the environment has a huge impact on their life.