While the majority of our national lawmakers focus on how to dismantle environmental protections and progress, including the looming threat of pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which is said to happen this week, local students are focused on creative ways to preserve and protect the environment, thanks to dedicated local teachers and activists who have the future in mind.

Teachers along with Ventura-based Multicultural Education for Resources Issues Threatening Oceans (MERITO) Foundation, via its nine-month-long Energy Efficiency to Mitigate Climate Change and Ocean Acidification program, have enabled area students to come up with pragmatic solutions targeting energy efficiency, water conservation and waste reduction, as reported in our news story “Future thinkers” on page 6. On Friday, June 2, at a competition at the Museum of Ventura County, 50 students will be awarded prizes for their concepts. But this isn’t just about theoretical applications. Some of the ideas of last year’s winners have already been implemented, including a project proposed by a Ventura High School student who tested thermostats in classrooms and discovered that the school could save $12,000 annually by fixing faulty devices, which in turn could be used to pay for the installation of solar power panels. Also, Fillmore High School students developed a lesson plan for the fourth grade on ocean acidification that has since been adopted into the curriculum. Another proposal included replacing recyclable water bottles with reusable water bottles to cut down waste overall. The virtue lies in the simplicity of addressing these important but too often overlooked details, an endeavor in which our youth will change the world.

Once one looks a little deeper at what is going on locally, there is a plethora of educational programs and plans focused not only on long-term sustainability and ecofriendly pursuits, but also on a major push for students to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), areas that students seem to be excited about, winning awards and other honors for their work in these fields from elementary schools to college level (See Biz Buzz online for awards). And while the older population may be dismayed that there seems to be such a blatant disregard for the environment, one that seems irreversible, the intellectual interests of our students say otherwise. A prime example of local youth who puts the concerns on the environment first: Alec Loorz, of Ventura, who, as a teenager, founded iMatter, a nonprofit focused on climate change by “working with teams of youth to hold their local governments accountable to protect our future.” At 22, he remains steadfast in his mission as iMatter’s youth director. We are proud of the work of our educators, volunteers and students who will not let our planet and their hard work go to waste.

While we cannot grasp how the near future will turn out, our children have other plans and are working hard toward implementing the path that benefits us all. That is rather inspirational and we should continue to place our time and support in their endeavors.