Climate and COVID-19
Climate and COVID-19

Tough Conversations: Climate in the Age of COVID-19 Hosted by Mariah Harrod & Lauren Saylor, Audubon Vermont Environmental Policy Research Interns.
Tough Conversations: Climate in the Age of COVID-19 Hosted by Mariah Harrod & Lauren Saylor, Audubon Vermont Environmental Policy Research Interns.


Tough Conversations: Climate in the Age of COVID-19

The second of a series of youth-led conversations about significant issues in the environmental movement.

Recognizing the important role that youth leaders are playing, Audubon Vermont assembled a group of youth climate leaders to share the challenges of environmental organizing amidst a pandemic. The panel discussed parallels between these crises and effective methods of encouraging climate action in our communities.

We are currently facing two distinct global crises, climate disruption and the COVID-19 pandemic. While most of us understand the need to respond immediately and strongly to each crisis, we still struggle to sift through the complex, often polarizing conversations associated with both. For both crises, we face a parallel struggle in discussing the scientific, social and economic challenges associated with responding at the scale and pace necessary to protect human lives and the economic health of our communities. There are also significant differences in the rate and scale of each crisis. Adding to the pre-pandemic challenge of focusing attention on the climate crisis, the COVID-19 outbreak is presenting significant and immediate barriers to advancing climate policy. We need not, however, lose momentum and there may be opportunities for increasing awareness and building capacity to respond to these dual global threats through integrating both dialogues and acting to each crisis with similar urgency.

Watch the webinar, hosted by Mariah Harrod & Lauren Saylor, Audubon Vermont Environmental Policy Research Interns.

If you'd like to learn more, here are some follow-up resources: click here.

Meet your co-hosts and panelists:

Mariah Harrod (she/her/hers): Co-host
Audubon Vermont Environmental Policy Research Intern: Summer 2020
I grew up in a region many environmentalists deem politically unsalvageable, but Kentucky was less homogenous than outsiders readily perceive. Living in coal country, we were pummeled by policies undermining ecosystems and damaging public health. Bearing witness to the injustice inflicted upon Appalachia, the industrial pollution in our communities, and the degradation of the region’s rich biodiversity made rebels of many of us. Being surrounded by such beauty so at odds with such devastation pushed me to join local lobbying organizations and study environmental systems in college. There I found ethical frameworks for environmentalism and methods of effectively communicating the problems we face and how we might shift the tide. It was then, too, that I decided policy work would be the most efficient and impactful method for that transition. I came to Vermont to earn my JD in environmental law and better implement ethical policies. Working with Audubon, I provide support to political influencers to shape statewide laws that in turn shape the environment in which we live.

Lauren Saylor  (she/her/hers): Co-host
Audubon Vermont Environmental Policy Research Intern: Summer 2020
I am a rising 3rd-year environmental law student at Vermont Law School and a recent graduate of Ithaca College with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Public and Community Health. While I was at Ithaca, I researched the presence of pathogens in hydroponic and aquaponic food systems. Through my research, numerous courses, and interactions with faculty I have learned the importance of having a broad perspective in the fight against climate change. I fully apply myself to the words of Jane Goodall in this fight; "You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make." At Audubon Vermont, I intend to apply myself to Jane's wise words while I learn more about how climate change impacts birds. Upon graduation from Vermont Law School, I intend to use my Masters in Environmental Law and Policy and J.D. in Environmental Law to spend every day fighting against climate change as an advocate, especially for those most vulnerable.

Marcelo Dias (he/him/his): Panelist
Audubon Vermont Environmental Policy Research Intern: Fall 2019
Marcelo  is a Brazilian Attorney combining in-depth knowledge of international environmental law and substantial experience across the public, private, and international sectors. He has professional and academic experience in the United States and practices law in Brazil. Marcelo has a Master of Laws from Vermont Law School. He worked for the Center for International Environmental Law in and with the Director of the International Alliances Program Washington, D.C, Vermont River Conservancy in Montpelier, VT, and the Director of Audubon Vermont on wetlands preservation. Marcelo also served as a Community and Forestry & Land Conservation Specialist at the Jericho Underhill Land Trust in VT. His favorite bird is the Hummingbird.

Emily Anderson (she/her/hers): Panelist
Audubon Vermont Environmental Policy Research Intern: Fall 2019
Emily has an educational background in ecological science (B.S. University of Maine 2016) and environmental policy (MELP Vermont Law School 2019). She is passionate about using storytelling to raise awareness for environmental issues. Her favorite bird is the Barred Owl and her favorite place in Vermont is anywhere on the Trail Around Middlebury, however, as a Vermont native, she has many favorites.

Kayley Dillon (she/her/hers): Panelist 
Kayley is a rising senior at the University of Vermont studying Wildlife Biology and is one of the founders of UVM’s new Audubon Campus Chapter. She is passionate about conservation in particular and has worked on research projects focused on monitoring and modelling bird species of concern during her college career. The energetic Ruby-crowned Kinglet is her favorite bird, and she loves the cool, coniferous forests of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

Jacob Peluso (he/him/his): Panelist
Jacob is a Bachelor of Youth Work at Victoria University completed in 2018. He expects to earn his Bachelor of Public Health and Sustainability degree in 2021. He works as a model and Indigenous Youth Worker where he works as a program manager specializing in culturally therapeutic practice. He is passionate about environmental sustainability and its impact on the complete well-being of communities and individuals. His favourite bird is the Lorikeet because they are pretty and chill outside his window. His favourite place in nature is Esperance, Australia, where the desert meets the surf.

Maia George (she/her/hers): Panelist
Maia is a rising junior at Harwood Union High School and a member of the Harwood Union chapter of the Vermont Youth Lobby. She is new to climate work and excited to get new people involved and participate in discussions and other action steps. Maia sees conversation as a tool for change that can be used to unite ideas and change outcomes. She enjoys the sweet chirps of the Black-capped Chickadee.

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