Future is in our hands
CLARENCE Valley's Earth Hour ambassador, Laura Johnson, wants to see change in the way we perceive our responsibility towards the environment.
Because if we don't, she says, it will be her generation and the ones that follow that will be left to clean up the effects of global warming.
This was the crux of an impassioned speech the Year 12 McAuley College student made recently during the selection process for the Lions Youth of the Year, for which she represented the Clarence Valley at regional finals on the weekend.
It was also how she came to the attention of Clarence Valley's Earth Hour organisers.
"(A council employee) was on the panel in my interview. I'm pretty passionate about climate change, and he picked up on that, which is how the ambassador role came about," she said.
It is a passion that started from a young age for the Coutts Crossing resident, who vividly remembers being given a book about global warming as a child.
"I've grown up in the country and have always been pretty involved with the environment, but the book got me thinking, what could I do? What impact could I have in my life?" she said.
The answer she came up with was to become a renewable energy engineer, a career which she has now framed her whole life around.
"There are a lot of issues in the world, but this one really stands out to me," she said.
"It's the way of the future ... There is a limit to what the earth can offer us and if we don't look after it, it will fall out from under our feet.
"If people start getting interested and involved, it will pave the way for a global effort towards a sustainable future.
"Earth Hour is an Australian initiative which I'm really proud of that's just the start of what we have to offer."
This year the Clarence Valley will host Earth Hour celebrations in conjunction with Yamba Parkrun's first birthday on March 19, in honour of the theme "Places We Love".
"We decided to take Earth Hour to the streets and catch up with people in the places they enjoy, so we'll be on the banks of the Clarence estuary having breakfast with the Yamba Parkrun participants, who we hope to engage with and prepare for Earth Hour that evening," organiser Suzanne Lynch said.
"Participants will be encouraged to pledge an action for Earth Hour and beyond, with an increased understanding after chatting to our Earth Hour ambassadors and checking out our display."
Parkrun kicks off at 7am on Monday at Ford Park and is open to runners and walkers of all abilities.
Ms Lynch added that people didn't have to participate in the park run to qualify for breakfast, which starts at 7.15am.
"We really hope to stimulate some healthy conversations about climate change," she said.