Coastal Carolina Riverwatch seeking funders and collaborators for Equity in the Environment program.

What: Equity in the Environment is a mentorship program designed to diversify environmental leadership by empowering underrepresented youth in Eastern NC. This program will pair students with expert mentors specializing in different areas of environmental study. Priority will be given to high school students identifying as Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Women, LGBTQ+, and/or low-income. 

Why: Research shows that marginalized populations are disproportionately exposed to environmental injustices. In order to make an equitable transition to a sustainable future, we need inclusivity in environmental education, leadership, and decision-making. CCRW’s strategy is to address state-level systemic change through local, community-based solutions. This program does so by equipping underrepresented youth with the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources to gain agency in their communities and make an impact in their futures.

How:  High school students in Carteret and Onslow Counties will shadow an environmental leader for the period of one semester. Potential student candidates will be identified with assistance from an already established coalition of teachers, guidance counselors, and social workers. Selected students will be paired with a mentor based on interest and compatibility. Attention will be given to ensure inclusive representation amongst mentors as well.

Areas of study include: plastic pollution research, marine debris prevention/removal, marine mammal conservation, water quality, environmental justice advocacy, underwater heritage, aquaculture, and commercial and sustenance fishing. 

Each mentorship will provide students with unique opportunities for field work, research, civic engagement, and advocacy related to their mentor’s expertise. Students will document their experiences through various media platforms and culminate with an individualized deliverable. 

Transportation is often a barrier to participation, especially among marginalized youth. Thus, CCRW will facilitate transportation and cover costs for student field experiences. 

Throughout the program, interns will lead workshops assisting students with resume writing and college applications. Upon completion, students will receive a scholarship award to ensure success in future environmental advocacy, research, and leadership endeavors.

Needs: Funding for student travel expenses, intern compensation, program equipment, PPE, scholarship awards, marketing, promotion, and general operation. Collaborators for potential mentors, curriculum design, and for inclusive consultation on project development. Long term sponsors for project longevity and scholarship funds. This project can be adjusted to fit many scales based on resource availability.

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