“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” Many of you may have heard this quote and while its a great idea, we disagree. The youth of today not only have the power to be leaders today, but they need to be leaders today as well. As youth we must call out those who are not engaging in sustainable practices because they are threatening our future as well as the future of the entire planet.
As 6th graders Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva discovered that Girl Scout Cookies contained palm oil, an ingredient that results in rainforest destruction, endangers thousands of species and contributes to human rights abuses. They have spent the past five years working to convince this organization to live up to the social and environmental responsibility they preach by removing palm oil from their cookies. In this session they will use their project as an example to illustrate the ways youth have the power to follow their passions and create change. Participants of all ages will learn how to find their passions and then become successful advocates for their cause.
Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva
In 2007, as 11 year olds, Madison and Rhiannon earned their Girl Scout Bronze Award by raising awareness about the endangered orangutan and their rapid diminishing rainforest habitat in Indonesia and Malaysia. After learning that the Girl Scout Cookies they had sold for so many years contained palm oil, an ingredient that results in rainforest destruction and human rights abuses, the two girls launched a variety of campaigns in order to convince the Girl Scout organization to remove this ingredient from their cookies. They worked to educate consumers about the impacts of palm oil and motivate them to take action by demanding deforestation-free products. Now juniors in high school, Madison and Rhiannon have finally gained the opportunity to enter a dialogue with the Girl Scout organization and are committed to ensuring that Girl Scout Cookies are produced in an environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible way. After a recent trip to Colombia to learn about the human rights abuses occurring as a result of palm oil corporations, the girls have made it their mission to not only advocate for the rainforest that are destroyed for palm oil but for the inhabitants of these tropic forests whose livelihoods rely on this invaluable resource. As youth, Madison and Rhiannon have fought to make their voices heard and to show other youth the tremendous power they have to make a difference. It is their belief that with courage, passion, and perseverance, any person, regardless of their age, can create change within their local and international communities.