By Grace Engelman, KSEC, Monterey, KY
Last Wednesday, the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition headed to Frankfort for the Clean Energy Lobby Day. The passion my peers have for our state and its environment blew me away. Growing up in a rural Kentucky county, I struggled to find young people with whom I could relate. KSEC has given me the opportunity to meet like-minded students who are prepared to take action on behalf of their fellow Kentuckians and our shared environment. It gives us a chance to make our voices heard. I think that this unique opportunity is where the appeal of KSEC lies for many of its members. Countless young people are afraid to speak out because they are worried that no one will hear their voice. KSEC gives us a platform on which to unite and make our message heard. We can create a powerful movement that can resonate with millions of Kentuckians. We can generate meaningful change. We can speak up on behalf of the environment without fear that our voices will be silenced or drowned out. While our lawmakers may not pay attention to a solitary voice, they cannot ignore hundreds.
My fellow KSEC members and I represent a statewide effort to give power to the people and forge the path to a bright future for our world. Our state, our country, and our planet depend on young people to put an end to climate change and encourage sustainability out of respect for our environment. Together, we can change Kentucky’s policies to promote the health of our ecosystems and our people.
In Frankfort, we discussed Senate Bill 190 and House Bill 339. This was my first experience with KSEC, and I absolutely loved it. As a high school sophomore, I was nervous to participate in an organization composed mostly of college students. However, as soon as I got the opportunity to speak with members, I felt welcomed and I was ready to fully immerse myself in this group.
After meeting my fellow KSEC members, we headed upstairs to speak with Senator Reggie Thomas, a sponsor of the bill. Afterwards, our groups split up to meet a number of other senators and representatives. My group met Representative Thomas McKee of Scott County. He showed interest in renewable energy and became engaged with our stories and the specifics of the bill. Once we finished our meeting with Representative McKee, KSEC members headed down to a hearing on a bill regarding coal miner safety, an important issue for many of our members. Later, we split up once more to distribute the outline of the bill.
We congregated for a debriefing to discuss the outcomes of our meetings. Then, we headed over to the Capitol Rotunda for a forum with our fellow members. Several students spoke about their own experiences with the group, and we participated in a powerful open discussion about youth participation, why we're involved with KSEC, and Kentucky’s energy future. I left Frankfort feeling hopeful for the state I call home and the future of my generation.