Lyndsey Franklin

Roles at NAAEE:

30 Under 30
Lisle, IL, United States                                       SEE OTHER BIOS HERE

Age: 23

Lyndsey co-founded an initiative that introduces sustainability education in public schools to inspire the next generation of voters, activists, and change-makers.

Tell us about yourself!

My experience has showed me that young people have energy, passion, and perhaps most importantly, a firm belief that they can make a difference. So, during college at the University of Southern California, I co-founded an environmental education club called EcoBright that works with K-12 students in schools near campus to teach about sustainability. I worked with a professor to design curricula for students of all different age groups that employed hands-on, STEM-based activities to get the kids excited about what they were learning. Each semester, our club recruited a dozen or so volunteers to teach over 100 kids in the community, with the mission to help empower the next generation of voters, leaders, activists, and change-makers.

I’m now a recent graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and B.A. in Political Economy. Throughout my time in college, I put focus on my passion for early environmental education. As an elementary school student, I remember a group of spunky young college students with khaki pants and green shirts coming to my school to teach us about the environment during Earth Week. These students were the first to introduce me to global warming and climate change, the importance of recycling, the horrors of pollution, and the benefits of preserving our natural ecosystems. They shaped the way I see my role in protecting the environment.

What inspired you to become a champion for environmental education?

As a college student, I volunteered for a service-learning organization on my campus to teach Los Angeles County fourth graders about sustainability and environmental science. On my first day, I asked my students to raise their hands if they had heard about the California drought (a drought that, at the time, had been going on for five years). Only about a quarter of my students raised their hands. I thought to myself, “Why would you conserve water, if you didn’t know water was in short supply?”

Without knowledge, there is no action. Despite not knowing about the drought, the students were so eager to learn, especially when we brought in hands-on activities that let them understand the environment through science. I saw this STEM-based education as a great opportunity to connect students with the environment and get them excited about being stewards of their communities. From there, I worked with several peers to start a campus club for environmental education for K-12 students.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders that are looking to bring about positive change in their communities through EE?

As environmental activists, the facts of a changing planet are more than enough to propel us to action. But that is simply not the case for all. I believe it’s important to be adaptable, to understand different perspectives, and to communicate with various stakeholder groups in order to build consensus. Listening to the experiences of others with empathy and an open mind is just as important to environmental education as teaching is. Once you truly know your audience, it becomes a simpler task to engage, inspire, and empower them.

What keeps you motivated, inspired, and/or hopeful for the future?

Communities like this one, full of intelligent and passionate activists that are committed to making the world a better place.

If you could be any animal or plant, what would you be and why?

A giraffe. Being a rather short individual, I have always wanted to know what it’s like to see from up high. Plus, I wouldn’t have to worry about sitting behind tall people at concerts. Although a giraffe at a concert might draw a few stares.