At West Linn over the recent years, there have been plenty of examples of students using their voice. In April of 2018, there was a walkout against gun violence, last February there was a walkout in support of the new health curriculum implementation in the school district, and most recently in March, there was a walkout regarding growing environmental issues. In recent years, many students have expressed their voices through political activism, including Athena Abrahamsen, sophomore, who has been involved in advocating against climate change for as long as she can remember.
“My family’s always been pretty involved in environment causes,” Abrahamsen said. “Campaigning is something that’s a really big passion for me.”
Abrahamsen is an environmental activist, campaigning for a cleaner earth and teaching others about the dangers of climate change. For Abrahamsen, her passion for conservation comes from her desire to leave the earth better than she found it.
“I like seeing our planet healthy, and it’s important for the next generation to have that opportunity to see a healthy planet too,” Abrahamsen said. “It hurts me knowing the earth is in trouble, and I just wanted to give back to something that’s supplied me with experiences.”
So, how does Abrahamsen make sure her voice is heard in the fight against climate change? To start, she is involved in many programs around the state, working one-on-one with fellow conservationists, learning firsthand about what she can be doing to make an impact.
“I volunteer with the Zoo Teens at the zoo, I’ve done internships at Dana Point at the Ocean Institute, and I’ve been a part of research programs,” Abrahamsen said. “It’s really cool because I’m able to have direct interaction about conservation with the public.”
One of the key ways that Abrahamsen campaigns for conservation is through social media. By creating an Instagram account called @love.our.oceans dedicated to promoting healthier oceans, Abrahamsen hopes to use social media to reach people from all around the globe.
“It’s pretty awesome that we are in an age where social media is so prevalent because it allows us to share so much information,” Abrahamsen said. “By having an account, it’s allowing people to see that there are worldwide problems that they can have a direct impact on.”
As young students, Abrahamsen and her fellow activists can struggle with making sure their voices are heard by those in leadership positions. Having little influence over elected officials is a problem that students activists have, but she knows there are solutions to this problem.
“Without the ability to vote, we as students don’t have a direct impact on our government,” Abrahamsen said. “But in the future, we can educate ourselves on what our elected officials are going to do about the problems that matter to us.”
While having no voting influence is a clear disadvantage for student activists like Abrahamsen, there are quite a few advantages to student advocates, especially in a school setting, according to Abrahamsen.
“There is definitely a benefit to being in such a large environment, because you are around so many people,” Abrahamsen said. “If you have a classroom of 25 and you only reach three, that’s still huge.”
By taking advantage of things like social media and the school environment she is always in, Abrahamsen makes sure her voice is heard as a student activist. As for the future, she hopes to see other students raising their voice as she continues to use her own.
“I’m not going to stop trying to educate others about our earth,” Abrahamsen said. “I want people to have the experience of being able to change their reality.”