Tough Conversations: Race & the Environment
Tough Conversations: Race & the Environment

Tough Conversations: Race & the Environment
Tough Conversations: Race & the Environment


Tough Conversations: Race and the Environment

Be prepared to be challenged, informed, and armed with tools to take action.

Recognizing the important role that youth leaders are playing, Audubon Vermont assembled a group of Vermont Law School students to help us examine the ways in which protecting the environment and advancing racial justice can be harmonized. Be prepared to be challenged, informed, and armed with tools to take action.

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others shook the nation. Black birder Christian Cooper’s experience in Central Park similarly rattled the birding community, bringing into focus the relation between racism and the environment. These events have sparked a global conversation on the ways in which racism pervades our social and legal institutions including our systems for protecting the environment.

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 of books, videos, organizations, articles, and podcasts: click here.

If you have questions or ideas for us in the antiracist work that we're doing together in the environmental arena, we'd love to hear from you. Reach out to Audubon:

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.

Jameson Davis (he/him/his): Panelist
Jameson is a Juris Doctor candidate at Vermont Law School and a former Selectboard Member for the Town of Hartford, Vermont with a passion for combating environmental harm through innovative solutions. He earned a Master of Environmental Law and Policy degree while he helped found the Environmental Justice Law Society and authored a paper on the History of How Low-Income and Predominantly Black Unincorporated Communities Evolved to Become Environmental Justice Communities Through State Annexation Laws/Procedures. He is currently interning with the Chesapeake Legal Alliance protecting local community members, groups and advocates by assisting staff attorneys in their fight to enforce compliance and existing laws designed to protect the most vulnerable communities and habitats found in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Arielle V. King (she/her/hers): Panelist
Arielle is a third-year law student at Vermont Law School, where she also completed a Master’s in Environmental Law and Policy. She co-founded the Vermont Law School's Environmental Justice Law Society, worked as an advanced clinician in the Environmental Justice (EJ) Clinic, and is currently creating a teacher’s guide on how to implement BIPOC perspectives through the lens of EJ as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow. Recently, Arielle co-wrote an Anti-Racism policy and corresponding procedure for K-12 school districts, organizations, and municipalities and is working with many groups across the nation towards adoption of the policy. Her favorite places in nature are forest regions/hiking trails on Caribbean islands and her favorite bird is the Hoatzin (or punk rock bird/Stinkbird) native to South America. 

Jerry Thomas (he/him/his): Panelist
Jerry is a third-year law student at Vermont Law School originally from Las Vegas. Before law school, Jerry did atmospheric chemistry research. He aspires to be a judge one day. Jerry’s favorite bird is the Tui.

Justin Kim (he/him/his): Panelist
Justin is a third-year law student at Vermont Law School. Before law school, Justin studied wildlife biology with a research focus on disease ecology. Justin’s favorite bird is the Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina).

If you'd like to compensate the panelists for their time and expertise:
Arielle - venmo: @Arielle-king323, cash app: $Arielleking323 :)
Jameson - Cash App: $JamesonChristopher
Justin - venmo: Justin-Kim-101
Jerry - venmo: @Jerry-Thomas-6

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