Kosisochukwu Ifeji

Roles at NAAEE:

30 Under 30

United States

Kosi (she/they) advocates for climate education through state legislation in Maine.

Kosi Ifeji speaking at the National Resources Council of Maine's Brookie Awards. Photo credit: Amara Ifeji

How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities?

My environmental education work has been focused on advocating for climate change education in Maine schools, specifically through legislation. The group consists of youth (ages 15–25), educators (both formal and nonformal), and other adult partners who are committed to promoting climate change education.

My main project has been helping to write and advocate for “Maine Legislative Document 1902: A Resolve to Encourage Climate Education In Maine Public Schools.” In 2020, the Maine governor’s office created a climate action plan for the state. While language about climate education was a part of that plan, there had not been any legislation about climate education since the plan was passed. As a co-chair of the Nature Based Education Consortium’s Climate Education Working Group, my team and I brought it upon ourselves to create a climate education bill to help fulfill the state’s climate action plan. This bill established a grant program managed by the Maine Department of Education for school districts to receive funding for teacher professional development to teach about the climate. This bill was successfully passed in May 2022 with $2.1 million in funding.

Maine Legislative Youth Day of Action to rally behind climate justice legislation. Photo credit: Luke Sekera-Flanders

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.

As a daughter of Nigerian immigrants, I did not have access to nature for a long time due to my socioeconomic status. Education is seen as the great equalizer in this world, which also rings true for climate education. As we aim to combat the climate crisis that disproportionately affects people of marginalized identities, like me, it’s important that all people have a connection to the Earth. This is because a relationship with nature is a key motivation for protecting our environment.

My path to environmental education has been unorthodox because I didn’t start off with a love for the environment due to my socioeconomic circumstances, but that’s precisely what motivates me. I’m inspired by other Black people doing environmental education across the world, and I’m motivated to see other young Black people have the relationship with nature that they deserve.

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A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ME

What book, film, or art piece has had the greatest impact on you?

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

What are you happiest doing?

Analyzing a piece of media (song, movie, book) with a friend!

What is your superpower?

Being able to talk to anyone about anything, anytime!

What’s your favorite food to celebrate with?

Nigerian jollof rice.