2020 Rising Star: Shreya Chaudhuri
At 16 years old, Shreya Chaudhuri founded an international 501(c)(3) environmental nonprofit called Project Planet Movement, Inc. After personally witnessing the California wildfires twice near her own school, Shreya said that she was shocked at the very real, life-changing impacts of climate change. However, after these devastating events, she was even more horrified to learn that more than half of Americans still did not accept climate change as an urgent issue. With less than 10 years left to meet the 2030 deadlines set by the IPCC, she realized that the lack of education is pushing us deeper into the climate crisis.
But after looking at the issue more closely, she understood that apathy was not the reason for inaction of the masses — it was ignorance. If people didn’t know about these issues, they couldn’t possibly care about them. In order to bridge this disparity, Shreya decided to start a nonprofit that educates the future generations about this topic, so that they can be empowered to make environmental changes in their communities, thereby creating a cycle of climate action change.
Her nonprofit approaches this issue through providing communities with both in-person and online resources to break this educational divide. The in-person opportunities include presentations at schools, farmer’s markets, libraries and more. These presentations are both informative and interactive to help students, and participants truly understand the science behind climate change. They often perform fun, educational science experiments, like teaching the students to build their own water filter system out of household materials and testing out its effectiveness.
Completing these experiments allow them to truly understand the science for themselves. Unlike most presentations, the students are encouraged to not only make individual changes, but they are also recommended to advocate for systemic changes. This approach teaches the students to use their voice in society for a good cause. At the end of each presentation, each student is also given a compostable packet of native seeds that they are asked to plant anywhere they can, giving them the sense of accomplishment to ignite their interests in environmental activism. These presentations are also tailored to the grade level of the students, so they find it more engaging and get the most out of it.
Shreya wants to make sure that these presentations are available to everyone, so Project Planet allows interested youth in the world to start a chapter. So far in addition to the U.S., Project Planet has reached Mongolia, Bahrain, India, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, the Philippines, among other countries.
Additionally, she is building a free online curriculum in collaboration with environmental scientists to help schools and students navigate this uncertain time while maintaining focus on environmental education. Project Planet is holding free webinars that can be tailored to the school’s needs. Some examples include talks with guest speakers about various topics or a Q&A session with the students. Furthermore, Shreya is trying to initiate policy reform as well within her community by working on a petition with her team at Project Planet. This will eventually create a systemic change.
So far, her organization has impacted over 1,400 students worldwide, and she is looking to expand more to form a future generation of educated climate changemakers. Shreya and her team sends out bimonthly informative newsletters read by people around the world.
Shreya is interested in research as well and has completed many award-winning projects. Recently, she won first place, “Solution to Pollution: Heavy Metal Removal with Chlorella Vulgaris,” in the environmental category at a science fair. Her enthusiasm for science has influenced her procedure to tackle issues about climate and environmental education. She has recognized that not many have the opportunity that she has, and she is determined to level the playing field for everyone to take control of their own voices and initiate changes in their own communities.
Shreya is extremely passionate about the environment, and this passion translates into everything that she does. She is also realistic about bringing climate reform to her community. Unlike other youth of her age who are driven by idealism alone, she is realistic and knows that in order to ignite real change, you must approach the problem from various angles. That is where she stands apart from others, and I believe that this is what will make her successful in her cause.