U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan recently announced the establishment of the Agency’s first-ever National Environmental Youth Advisory Council (NEYAC). This groundbreaking federal advisory committee will provide independent policy advice and recommendations to Administrator Regan, focusing on enhancing EPA’s efforts in tackling various environmental issues impacting youth. Notably, the council, occupied exclusively by individuals aged between 16 and 29, marks a significant step in involving younger generations in environmental policymaking.
Regan emphasized the vital role of young people in driving political and social change, particularly in the environmental sector. He reiterated President Biden’s commitment to ensuring nationwide access to clean air, safe water, and healthy land, highlighting the role of NEYAC in realizing this vision for a sustainable future.
The EPA, in its quest for a diverse and experienced council, issued a call for nominations in the summer of 2023 and received an overwhelming response of over 1,000 applications. The 16 new members, selected from this pool, represent a wide range of interests, experiences, and geographical areas, including urban, rural, and tribal communities from 13 states and the District of Columbia. Their expertise spans crucial environmental topics such as climate change, environmental justice, conservation, and workforce development.
The official appointment of the council members will be announced at a launch event in Washington, D.C., set to be a convergence of young leaders from across the nation. The event, featuring prominent figures like DJ Heat, Little Bacon Bear, and political leaders such as U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. Representative Maxwell Frost, aims to celebrate and empower youth involvement in environmental advocacy. A fireside chat moderated by ESPN’s Sheila Matthews will also take place, featuring Regan and the new council members.
The NEYAC, which plans to convene at least twice a year, comprises a diverse group of young environmental leaders:
- Shannen Maxwell, 27, Mexico, Missouri
- Nicholas Blumenthal, 21, Sioux City, Iowa
- Alexandra Angerman, 25, Wrangell, Alaska
- Asada Rashidi, 22, Newark, New Jersey
- Colton Buckley, 29, Gatesville, Texas
- Emmanuel Alcantar, 27, Los Angeles
- Gabriel Nagel, 18, Denver
- Kiera O’Brien, 25, Washington
- Kristy Drutman, 28, Weehawken, New Jersey
- Lisette Perez, 24, Chicago
- Meghana Kunapareddy, 18, Katy, Texas
- Osasenaga Idahor, 20, Hyde Park, Massachusetts
- Page Tsirigotis, 19, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Rachel Billiot-Bruleigh, 27, Gretna, Louisiana
- Sophia Kianni, 21, McLean, Virginia
- Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru, 24, Philadelphia
View the full list of NEYAC members and read additional information about the committee.
The council’s first meeting is scheduled for next year, with more information to be made available on EPA’s website.