New high school program elevates teen voices on social, environmental issues

February 15, 2018

This March, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities will launch its first-ever Youth for Environment and People committee, or YEP!, an opportunity for high school students to select and collaborate on solutions to issues impacting society and the environment.

Students will learn how to draw attention to an issue and speak comfortably about it, as well as learn skills on ways to take action on that issue. The program seeks to include participants with a wide range of experience in action-taking and grassroots organizing.

“We aim to create a space where high school students across Whatcom County can learn, engage and take action on issues that are important to them and, therefore, should be important to our community,” said Priscilla Brotherton, Sustainable Schools Program Manager at RE Sources. “We want to help build a collective voice for those not old enough to vote.”

The program will provide participants with resources and an opportunity to work alongside professionals with experience in grassroots organizing. Once the program begins, students will concentrate on planning and hosting an action event on April 29 for teenagers from across Whatcom County to engage their peers in their chosen issue.

Research suggests that when young people identify with the problems in their community, they are more likely to act on them, according to Sahar Arbab, YEP! leader and Western Washington University graduate student studying youth community leadership and participation.

“Often, adults make decisions and take action on issues without consulting those that will be impacted the most. Since young people are our future decision makers, we should be listening to them now, and providing support and resources for them as they take action,” Arbab said.

YEP! is funded by the Whatcom Community Foundation.

Applications are accepted until February 21. To participate, you must…

  • Be enrolled in high school during the 2017-2018 academic year
  • Be able to attend a weekly two-hour meeting starting in late February until the end of April (excluding spring break).
  • Live in Whatcom County.

For more information or to apply to be on the committee, visit the YEP! page.

Media Contact:  Priscilla Brotherton, Sustainable Schools Program Manager,,  (360) 733-8307 ext. 218.