Submitted by: The RE Store
High school students will paint a mural outside The RE Store highlighting the biggest threats to Southern Resident orcas: a declining supply of Chinook salmon to eat, vessel traffic and noise pollution, and toxic substances in the Salish Sea. The orca mural will be painted on the Monroe St. side of The RE Store, 2309 Meridian St. in Bellingham, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 2.
The students are members of the RE Sources program Youth for the Environment and People (YEP!), a student-led advocacy group of 10 youth who learn about direct action, community organizing, government, and regional issues before creating an action project each spring.
After hearing about the dire state of the 75 remaining southern resident orcas from a professional at the Center for Whale Research, the young activists chose to paint a mural as their project to build awareness about the endangered species and to motivate community members to take action.
“Working with other people who have the same passion and drive for change has been an amazing experience. I’m really proud of what we’ve created,” said YEP! participant Shannon Butler.
The mission of YEP! is to elevate student voices. These students have been active participants since February, meeting weekly at Options High School to learn leadership and advocacy skills and to collaborate with students from other high schools in Bellingham.
“Getting to know everyone has been great and I’m so excited to paint and create a statement with them,” said Nat Allen, a student in YEP! from Options High School.
Other community members provided opportunities for student learning as well: Eddy Ury, RE Sources Clean Energy program manager, led a workshop on how to lead an effective campaign; Lindsey MacDonald, Sustainable Communities Partnership Program Coordinator at WWU, led a workshop on leadership skills; Gretchen Leggitt, local artist and former art teacher, led a workshop on how to paint a mural; and Stephenie Burgess, a science teacher at Options high school, provided a space for YEP! to meet.
Funding for YEP! comes from the Whatcom Community Foundation. Learn more about Youth for the Environment and People at www.re-sources.org/yep
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RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a local nonprofit organization in Bellingham, WA dedicated to protecting the health of northwest Washington’s people and ecosystems through the application of science, education, advocacy, and action. For more information, visit re-sources.org.