“My peers inspire me! I’m fortunate to be surrounded by many individuals who have made it their life’s work to raise awareness about climate change and adaptation and who have helped me realize that we don’t all need to be activists to spark change.” – Jennifer Hong, 2021
Growing up in Vancouver, BC, Jennifer Hong has volunteered with The Starfish Canada for more than 3 years. She is currently an editor for the editorial program at The Starfish and helps mentor a group of 6 writers to write an article for the journal.
Jennifer’s passion for the environment all started by accident. She was initially pursuing medical science but she came across a professor in Forestry that opened up a new world to her. She began to spend more time in nature and learned about different types of trees and foliage.
“My new-found passion, coupled with the reality of climate change and its impacts on the forest, is the driving force that underlies my desire to help others learn more about climate change and do their part in preserving the forest.”
Realizing the importance of storytelling, Jennifer aims to build a community by sharing her story and experiences with others who are not familiar with environmentalism or the Forestry sector. Despite a rough start, she has now spoken and shared her story with over 500 individuals, with a number of them considering studying Forestry in the university. She is glad to see her stories are inspiring new environmentalists and hopes to make pro-environmentalism societal changes.
Throughout her 3 years of volunteering experience with The Starfish, she enjoys the community’s learning atmosphere and the diversity of people’s background and motivation. The vast array of article topics contributed by the community also provided her an opportunity to learn about environmental issues other than forestry, expanding her horizons to topics like clean energy and ocean conservation. She shares “I love that the community is youth-led and driven. The community is flexible in that everyone can bring their own strengths and passions to it.”
When asked what advice Jennifer would give to other young environmentalists, she shared:
Never underestimate your ability to make a difference and vote. We need everyone in the fight against climate change and the journey to adaptation. While your actions may feel small in the grand scheme of things, it really is those small actions that can make a difference over time. Even if you get five people in your social circle to make those small changes, you’ve made a difference.
Climate change and adaptation has finally come to the forefront of the political discussions of our day because enough people cared about the issue to elect individuals who are finally implementing policies to address climate change and adaptation. Voting is a privilege and one, if not, the best method of taking action in our democracy today. The decisions made by our political leaders have huge implications for the environmental actions the country takes (for example, implementing the carbon tax) and it is only by us voicing each of our opinions that these actions are taken.
There is a role for everyone to play in the environmental space and you don’t have to be another ‘Greta Thunberg’ to make a difference, start it off by raising awareness and share your stories and experiences. Remember, small efforts will make a big difference!