“Fresh voices for clean air”: Environmental group seeks high school students

A local environmental group is recruiting high school students for a year-long educational program aimed at training up a new generation of air quality advocates.

Throughout the year, students from grades nine through 11 will partner virtually on a shared environmental project with a parallel cohort from Alabama. Co-hosts Group Against Smog and Pollution say the Fresh Voices for Clean Air participants will come away with a range of new skill sets developed through hands-on learning.

“By the end of the program year, the team will have created, developed, and executed an air quality-related project of their own choosing, with the support of adult mentors in both Pittsburgh and Birmingham,” according to a press release announcing the program.

This is the second year of the educational partnership between the Edgewood-based group and the Greater-Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution, both of which go by the acronym GASP.

Laura Kuster, an educator with the Pennsylvania-based organization, says last year’s students not only learned from the rotation of adult speakers, but also taught them in turn about how environmental issues appear to young minds.

“The students loved hearing from a wide variety of guest speakers, and those speakers valued interacting with the students even more,” Kuster says in a press release. “It's inspiring to engage in conversations about air quality and the environment with our Fresh Voices participants, and I often think back to their perspectives and insights while doing my work.”

According to the program’s website, the environmental groups teamed up as a reflection of their “similar industrial and environmental history.”

Patrick Campbell, the executive director for the Edgewood-based nonprofit, says the groups are closely aligned in their missions and objectives.

“Like us, they strive to reduce air pollution, educate the public on the health risks associated with poor air quality, and encourage community leaders to serve as role models for clean air and clean energy development,” Campbell says. “We’re excited for the opportunity to partner with our friends in Birmingham and can’t wait to see what the students come up with this time.”

The program, funded by the Grable Foundation, is free, and participants will receive a $100 award upon completion.

Interested candidates can find further information on the program and how to register at voicesforcleanair.com. Applications are due by Sept. 12.