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Earth Day 2021

Our individual voices are powerful. One ballad can send chills down our spines. One speech can ignite a global movement. And it’s during these times when our voices come together, that we have the power to make progress, to make history.

Change Starts Here An Earth Day celebration.

This Earth Day, we celebrated the people speaking up for nature and making positive change for our environment. See some of their stories below, by following #SpeakUpForNature on social media and by watching our virtual Earth Day event, "Change Starts Here" above.

Earth Day was founded 51 years ago when thousands of people came together in the United States to speak up and demand cleaner air and water. In 1990, Earth Day became global when 200 million people in 141 countries spoke up together about global environmental issues.

We commend all those voices that came before, and all the voices speaking up for nature today.

Change Starts Here

Co-hosted by CEO Jennifer Morris and Chief Scientist Katharine Hayhoe, our Earth Day event celebrated today’s environmental heroes, featured a musical performance by Aloe Blacc and included appearances from Danni Washington, Justin Long, Bill Nye, and more.

Watch on YouTube
Headshot of Justin Long.
Headshot of Danni Washington.
Headshot of Aloe Blacc.
Headshot of Jennifer Morris.
Headshot of Katharine Hayhoe.

'Change Starts Here' Event Speakers

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe climate scientist © Artie Limmer / Texas Tech University

Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy

Katharine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe is an accomplished atmospheric scientist who studies climate change and why it matters to us here and now. She is also a remarkable communicator who has received the American Geophysical Union’s climate communication prize, the Stephen Schneider Climate Communication award, the United Nations Champion of the Earth award, and be...

Katharine Hayhoe is an accomplished atmospheric scientist who studies climate change and why it matters to us here and now. She is also a remarkable communicator who has received the American Geophysical Union’s climate communication prize, the Stephen Schneider Climate Communication award, the United Nations Champion of the Earth award, and been named to a number of lists including Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Thinkers, and FORTUNE magazine’s World’s Greatest Leaders. Her TED talk, “The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it” has nearly 4 million views and her most recent book, “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World,” will be published by Simon & Schuster in Sept 2021.

Katharine serves as chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy and she is also a Paul W. Horn Distinguished Professor and the Political Science Endowed Professor in Public Policy and Public Law at Texas Tech University. She has a B.Sc. in physics from the University of Toronto and an M.S. and Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Colgate University and Victoria University at the University of Toronto.

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Beatrice Lempaira Production Manager, BeadWORKS © Courtesy Beatrice Lemapira

Production Manager, BeadWORKS

Beatrice Lempaira

Beatrice Namunyak Lempaira, is production manager for BeadWORKS, a program of TNC’s partner Northern Rangelands Trust's business arm, Northern Rangelands Trust-Trading (NRT-T), in Kenya.

BeadWORKS partners with established women’s groups in conservancies to help them turn their traditional craft skills into a viable, sustainable business. BeadWORKS currently empowers 1,250 women in nine conservancies, enabling women to earn more money creating traditional handicrafts than from other work that can have harmful impacts on the env...

Beatrice Namunyak Lempaira, is production manager for BeadWORKS, a program of TNC’s partner Northern Rangelands Trust's business arm, Northern Rangelands Trust-Trading (NRT-T), in Kenya.

BeadWORKS partners with established women’s groups in conservancies to help them turn their traditional craft skills into a viable, sustainable business. BeadWORKS currently empowers 1,250 women in nine conservancies, enabling women to earn more money creating traditional handicrafts than from other work that can have harmful impacts on the environment."I have seen women buy land through saving their BeadWORKS income," Beatrice said. "These days, I even have men coming up to me and asking how their wives can join BeadWORKS!"

During our Earth Day virtual event, “Change Starts Here,” Beatrice will talk about her work with women like Joyce Lelukai, featured in the video below, and how the work has been a catalyst for social change. Over and above having extra money for daily needs, the women feel they have a higher social standing in society and are empowered to have a say in what goes in their households and conservancies.

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Helping women entrepreneurs across community conservancies has been personally empowering for me. As a woman from a pastoralist community, now more than ever, I believe in our ability to succeed.


BEATRICE LEMPAIRA
Production Manager, BeadWORKS
Learn More About BeadWORKS (2:10) Joyce Lelukai is a star beader in the Northern Rangelands Trust-Trading's BeadWORKS program. With support from The Nature Conservancy and others, 1,200 women in Kenya are now earning an income and conserving their environment by making and selling beaded handicrafts.
Seeds and drones TNC is partnering with regional scientists to use innovative seed-distribution methods to help regrow forests. © Catherine Schloegel

Watershed Forest Manager, The Nature Conservancy

Catherine Schloegel

“If restoring forests were easy, everyone would do it.”
TNC Watershed Forest Manager Catherine Schloegel is getting to the root of forest restoration issues with her latest research. She’s looking at the tree seeds themselves and testing seed coatings and seed pellets to ensure a higher germination rate, which ultimately leads to a higher surv...

“If restoring forests were easy, everyone would do it.”
TNC Watershed Forest Manager Catherine Schloegel is getting to the root of forest restoration issues with her latest research. She’s looking at the tree seeds themselves and testing seed coatings and seed pellets to ensure a higher germination rate, which ultimately leads to a higher survival rate. Her research is based in Colorado, where restoring wildfire-ravaged forests is a high priority, but the goal is to scale her learnings to forests across the globe.

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Aliya Jasmine Environmental Journalist & Nature United Board Member © Courtesy Aliya Jasmine

Environmental Journalist & Nature United Board Member

Aliya Jasmine

Aliya Jasmine is an award-winning TV Host & Producer. She received her Masters degree in Environmental Journalism from the University of Southern California.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and co-founder of the environmentally-focused creative agency, Lili Media & Design Lab. You likely recognize her from years of h...

Aliya Jasmine is an award-winning TV Host & Producer. She received her Masters degree in Environmental Journalism from the University of Southern California.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and co-founder of the environmentally-focused creative agency, Lili Media & Design Lab. You likely recognize her from years of hosting prime time shows and documentaries for NBC News in Los Angeles, Discovery Channel, and MTV Canada. Her reporting in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest is what introduced her to The Nature Conservancy's work in the region, and eventually led her to join the Board of Directors in Canada.

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Cashawn Myers Executive Director of HABESHA Inc. © Lynsey Weatherspoon

Executive Director, HABESHA

Cashawn Myers

“There’s no culture without agriculture.”

As a founding member of HABESHA, Inc., Cashawn Myers has served as Executive Director since its inception in 2002. HABESHA is a Pan-African organization that cultivates leadership in youth and families through practical experiences in cultural education, sustainable agriculture, entrepreneurship, holistic health and technology. Cashawn comes fr...

“There’s no culture without agriculture.”

As a founding member of HABESHA, Inc., Cashawn Myers has served as Executive Director since its inception in 2002. HABESHA is a Pan-African organization that cultivates leadership in youth and families through practical experiences in cultural education, sustainable agriculture, entrepreneurship, holistic health and technology. Cashawn comes from a lineage of farmers and teachers, and was originally hesitant to follow either of those family traditions. It wasn’t until his sophomore year of college that he wholeheartedly embraced this lineage as his purpose in life. Today, HABESHA's success has led to the establishment of affiliate HABESHA branches in Washington, D.C.; Accra, Ghana; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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Learn More About HABESHA, Inc. (4:08) Atlanta boasts the highest percentage of urban tree canopy coverage among large U.S. cities. But it is a rapidly growing metropolis that is also home to the nation’s most extreme economic disparity.
Kosis Ifeji Changemakers Fellow, The Maine Environmental Education Association. © Joanna Thyer

Changemakers Fellow, The Maine Environmental Education Association

Kosis Ifeji

Kosis Ifeji is a high school junior, intersectional climate justice activist and environmental steward from Bangor, Maine. Her passion for the environment led her to pursue citizen science efforts through her school's Stormwater Management and Research Team (SMART), which focuses on monitoring the health of the Penobscot watershed. Kosis shares...

Kosis Ifeji is a high school junior, intersectional climate justice activist and environmental steward from Bangor, Maine. Her passion for the environment led her to pursue citizen science efforts through her school's Stormwater Management and Research Team (SMART), which focuses on monitoring the health of the Penobscot watershed. Kosis shares her time as a Maine Environmental Changemakers fellow, co-chairs the Nature-Based Education Consortium (NBEC) Climate Education Task Force, serves on the NBEC Steering Committee, and collaborates with the Maine Climate Table Intergen cohort. Kosis also advocates for policy and culture-based change in both her school and local communities through addressing the inequities at her school district. In her free time, Kosis loves all things Harry Potter and cooking and baking for herself and for others. 

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Dr. Nalini Nadkarni Professor of Biology at the University of Utah and a trustee with TNC Utah. © Lawrence Boye

Professor of Biology at the University of Utah; Trustee with TNC Utah

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni has been called “The Queen of the Forest Canopy,” serving as a pioneer in forest canopy studies and in communicating forest research among scientists and the general public. Her research concerns the ecology of forest canopies in the rainforests of Costa Rica and in Washington State. Nalini co-founded the International Canop...

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni has been called “The Queen of the Forest Canopy,” serving as a pioneer in forest canopy studies and in communicating forest research among scientists and the general public. Her research concerns the ecology of forest canopies in the rainforests of Costa Rica and in Washington State. Nalini co-founded the International Canopy Network, a non-profit organization to foster communication among researchers, educators and conservationists, and she created the Initiative to Bring Science to Prisons (INSPIRE), in which scientists provide science lectures, collaborate on projects, and offer nature imagery to men, women and youth who are incarcerated. Her work has been featured in publications including Natural History, National Geographic, Audubon and The New York Times. And, in 2020, she advised Mattel and National Geographic in creating a Barbie in her likeness, along with the entire “Explorer Series.”

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Ashlee Lillis US Virgin Islands Coral Manager for The Nature Conservancy. © Misty Winter

U.S. Virgin Islands Coral Manager, The Nature Conservancy

Dr. Ashlee Lillis

Dr. Ashlee Lillis is a marine ecologist with specialized expertise in the larvae of invertebrates, such as coral, and a background in researching reef soundscapes, both as a monitoring tool and as a sensory cue for reef fish and corals. She leads TNC’s U.S. Virgin Islands Coral Innovation Hub, where staff work to restore coral reefs by growing ...

Dr. Ashlee Lillis is a marine ecologist with specialized expertise in the larvae of invertebrates, such as coral, and a background in researching reef soundscapes, both as a monitoring tool and as a sensory cue for reef fish and corals. She leads TNC’s U.S. Virgin Islands Coral Innovation Hub, where staff work to restore coral reefs by growing new corals faster than ever before and with greater survival rates. The Innovation Hub, located on TNC’s Estate Little Princess Preserve, is one of the largest facilities of its kind dedicated to coral propagation. Though Ashlee’s work today focuses on growing corals, she looks forward to a future state where she can integrate her background in bioacoustics and reef soundscapes to more fully understand coral reefs.

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Learn more about Ashlee's work Joining forces with the world's best scientists, TNC is developing and deploying groundbreaking techniques to grow new corals and bring dying reefs back to life.
Mike Wironen, Sr. Senior Scientist, Agriculture & Food Systems. © Courtesy Mike Wironen, Sr.

Senior Scientist for Agriculture & Food Systems, The Nature Conservancy

Dr. Mike Wironen

TNC’s Senior Scientist for Agriculture & Food Systems Dr. Michael Wironen provides technical and strategic leadership to projects and collaborations with leading agriculture and food companies, including Syngenta, Walmart, McDonald’s and AB InBev. His portfolio includes place-based projects in Africa, Asia and the Americas. His work focuses on ...

TNC’s Senior Scientist for Agriculture & Food Systems Dr. Michael Wironen provides technical and strategic leadership to projects and collaborations with leading agriculture and food companies, including Syngenta, Walmart, McDonald’s and AB InBev. His portfolio includes place-based projects in Africa, Asia and the Americas. His work focuses on achieving sustainable intensification, while driving toward a regenerative food system, including leveraging carbon and other ecosystem service markets. During the "Change Starts Here" Earth Day event, Michael will teach viewers about regenerative agriculture and provide tips on how to make educated, more sustainable food choices.

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Julie Robinson Program Director, TNC Belize. © 2019 Tony Rath Photography

Belize Program Director, The Nature Conservancy

Julie Robinson

Julie Robinson is director of TNC's Belize Program, which aims to align science, technology, policy, finance and livelihoods for the benefit of people and the environment. Julie joined the Conservancy in 2006 as a marine program manager, building research and management capacity of local partners. She has led multi-disciplinary planning and sci...

Julie Robinson is director of TNC's Belize Program, which aims to align science, technology, policy, finance and livelihoods for the benefit of people and the environment. Julie joined the Conservancy in 2006 as a marine program manager, building research and management capacity of local partners. She has led multi-disciplinary planning and science teams and built partnerships across diverse sectors and disciplines including government, private sector and non-profit organizations. All of Julie’s conservation work is based on consultation, as she has built a long process for cultivation and building consensus amongst resource users and managers. 

Julie has a B.Sc. in biology from the University of South Florida and is currently pursuing a P.S.M. in ocean food systems with the University of New England. She has a 10-year-old son with an affinity for history, aviation and the ocean, and together they enjoy walking their dogs, riding bikes and swimming in the ocean and rivers.

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