Amara Ifeji, 20, recognized early on that her passion for the environment was something those in marginalized communities like her own often had little opportunity to explore. So, in 2018, she started facilitating environmental learning opportunities for fellow students of color at her high school. From there, she went on to become one of the directors of the Maine Environmental Changemakers Network, an intergenerational group of 400-plus youth from diverse backgrounds. The Changemakers program challenges traditional models of leadership to develop a more just, inclusive, and equitable environmental movement.
Through her work, Amara has been able to elevate youth voices in state and federal policy creation. In 2021, she coordinated Maine’s first-ever climate education summit focused on hearing young people’s vision for a climate-literate Maine. Using the knowledge she gained at the summit, Amara has helped create, pass, and implement a bill that funds more than $2 million for climate education in the state.