By Emily Saunders
Last Saturday morning, alongside bagels and coffee, I met with a great group of Sierra Club volunteers at the Climate Avengers Leadership Training. This event was brought up to me during one of my volunteer shifts earlier that week, and I was initially skeptical about attending. With no previous knowledge of the environmental projects being done here in Minnesota, and being from Chicago, I was not sure of what to expect. Let me just say that I was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned about leadership, as well as the role and projects of Climate Avengers Volunteers.
Before coming to Minneapolis for school, I did not know about the progress being made by local communities in environmental improvement, and after only a few weeks of volunteering at the Sierra Club North Star Chapter I only wish I had started volunteering earlier. By just mere presence at the Minneapolis office I have become aware of many environmental issues that I want to be a part of improving, but the topics of coal-fired power plants and climate change discussed in the leadership training really struck a chord with me.
The Saturday training session was led by Alexis Boxer, a Sierra Club staff member working with the Beyond Coal Campaign. She began with some background on this important campaign, which is reaching out to the public through a network of volunteer leaders called the Climate Avengers. Beyond Coal’s goal is to raise awareness in local communities about the harsh consequences of our reliance on coal, and the need to replace coal-fired power plants with clean energy and energy efficiency.
With a clear plan of action, the leadership training went very smoothly and was extremely rewarding. A diverse group of volunteers showed up all with the same goal in mind, which allowed for great discussion of strategies for leading a volunteer team against climate change. I learned how to write my own RAP, a short and informative speech used to recruit more Climate Avengers in the area, as well as how to effectively lead a group in a meeting. I also learned how important certain qualities were in being a good leader such as listening, showing a passion for the project at hand, and organization.
All in all, I can say that I met some great people and learned many skills that I will apply to my volunteer leadership at the Sierra Club and beyond to any future career leadership opportunities I encounter.
Emily Saunders is an intern with the Sierra Club North Star Chapter and a student at the University of Minnesota.