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Youth Environmental Movement Grows Out Of Ridgewood

Students for Environmental Action held summit to advance environmental goals among area students

A coalition of environmentally-committed students held court at the Ridgewood Public Library Saturday to discuss ways students can enact change on a local level, state and national level while fostering a sense of collaboration and shared goals.

Students Saving Energy (SSE) is a network Ridgewood High School senior Victoria Pan created, encompassing high schools around the area and with the goal to eventually expand nationally. About a 25 students from ten high schools on Saturday heard various ideas taking place at their respective schools, the dangers stemming from the "fracking" process (extracting natural gas, which environmentalists contend presents dangers to air and ground water), as well as lobbying to push through a bill for 10-cent deposits on plastic water bottles.

Alone they may not be able to accomplish much, but together they could be a real force, said Pan.

"Our goal is to generate a sense of collaboration amongst these schools and not only give them ideas about starting energy savings projects and doing things to make a difference in the community, but really just emphasising the idea of collaboration and working together," according to Pan, who , which recognizes a Sierra Club member under the age of 30 for their commitment to both environmental issues community service.

At RHS, Pan and the Students for Environmental Action Club (SEAC) with the Turn Off the Lights project, as well as a recycling program, .

"That's what connects these two projects," she said of the overlap between RHS environmental student initiatives and the broader, more encompassing goal. "It's not only the act of saving energy and reducing consumption but changing people's minds, people's habits and making them more aware of how they consume resources."

While pleased with the turnout Saturday, Pan hopes the collaborative network absolves the hesitancy among the youth to participate in enacting change.

"A lot of young people question the impact they can make," Pan said. "So the goal is really to inspire people to take the initiative, to take action in their communities because the biggest way to make an impact is to work together."

Check out the SSE's Facebook group for more information.

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