By Laney Martens, Aspen High School student
This year I participated in the Youth Water Leadership Program on the Youth Water Leaders Team, helping lead our youth voices to speak in front of our community members and state representatives at the 2019 Healthy Rivers Youth Water Summit. The Summit allows students to communicate their research and concerns during an amazing opportunity to speak and talk to experts and other adults about current water issues.
Surprisingly, Two years ago I, myself was one of these students and attended my first Healthy Rivers Youth Water Summit where I presented in front of my peers and other community representatives. This was my first step in becoming more interested in advocating for our watershed. Now, after being a member of the Youth Water Leaders Team, and helping organize and host the Summit I have a deeper respect and love for the opportunity that I have been given through this program.
During this past year I have been able to speak to water experts and leaders in the Roaring Fork Valley, learn with my peers about current water issues not just in our valley but statewide, and got to go rafting on the Colorado River. All these experiences have helped me develop a new perspective of our watershed and gave me a reason to share my knowledge and ideas to others that have different perspectives on these issues.
During the meetings, I was able to learn about different topics and current issues that we are experiencing in our watershed; and speak about our opinions on this topic. This helped me prepare for the Summit and expand my thinking to other issues that I have not heard of before.
Also, I had the amazing opportunity of speaking to elected officials and policy makers during this year. For example I spoke to the Snowmass Environment Advisory Board and invited them to the Summit. I also shared about why I was interested in advocating for our watershed. This developed my public speaking ability and gave me the chance to discuss my opinions on improving certain issues. This has also led to other opportunities, including them inviting me to serve on the Snowmass Village Environmental Advisory Board as a youth representative which I plan to do throughout the next six months before leaving town for college.
As the days grew closer to the Youth Water Summit, preparation for the Summit began. Including activities for the students to do while having break time, in which had to be chosen. Presentations from students began to roll in. And the choosing of the keynote speakers was more important than ever.
Laney Martens is a senior at Aspen High School and resident of Snowmass Village, Colorado. She first participated in the Youth Water Leadership Program in 2017 by presenting a call-to-action presentation. She is an avid white water rafter and loves rivers in the west.
Thank to Rios to Rivers for cover photo by Weston Boyles