Two high school students and a collegiate member of Gov. Mills’ Climate Council talked about their experiences advocating for solutions to climate change in a Zoom presentation cosponsored by the city's Climate Crisis Committee and Belfast Free Library.

The Feb. 22 event was attended by several members of the local and international communities. Belfast Area High School student Jonah Lovejoy spoke at the event as one local student activist searching for climate change solutions.

He said his climate change activism began in earnest when he started working with the Climate Crisis Committee on a citizen science project in two of his classes at the beginning of this school year.

It sparked his interest in climate action, and he is now a full member of the committee, he said. He likes the idea of performing activism in his community. He is trying to reorganize the Climate Crisis Club at the high school, which currently has six members who meet over Zoom.

The high school group has reached out to other schools and activists for guidance. Right now, the students are focused on making their school more climate-friendly, for example, by making the school's composting and recycling programs more sustainable.

The group wants to join Maine Students for Climate Justice, a statewide student-run coalition, he said. The coalition has many members from colleges across the state, according to its website.

College of the Atlantic student Ania Wright is a member of the coalition and spoke about her experience meeting climate activist Greta Thunberg at a climate convention in Poland. She said she realized that a person's size does not determine their impact on the world.

She talked about how Bar Harbor’s climate emergency declaration was led primarily by young people. She has seen many adults champion a young person’s great idea because young people do not feel they have power in the community. In Bar Harbor elected officials passed the resolution after listening to young people.

The story is a good example of how young people are inspired to take action when adults make them feel uplifted and empowered, she said. Many of the Bar Harbor students went on to continue their climate change activism with other groups or through education. “They’re barely out of high school, but they're already changing the world,” Wright said.

Anna Siegel is a freshman at Waynfleet School in Portland who talked about her experience as an activist and how birding led her to it.

She said she has had to learn how to write testimony for a bill and educate herself on investments and how taxes work because it is not taught in school. She is involved with a lot of legislation that addresses climate change issues, but much of it gets slammed into the “bureaucratic wall of the Maine Legislature.”

“Those walls are where the frustration creeps in and perseverance is needed,” she said. “It can be frustrating for youth activists. We’re thinking years in the future, we're thinking so boldly and we’re presenting this legislation, these bills, these resolutions to governmental bodies that aren’t ready to think beyond where their money is right now, or where the economy is at this point in time.

“And they can’t think four years in the future, 10 years in the future, generations ahead, as youth are, and that is why the youth voice is important.”