My name is Coral Lin, and I am a current junior at Duke University studying public policy and economics and minoring in environmental science and policy. From 2017 to 2021, I was a youth volunteer with Green Newton, where I saw the power of education, conversation, relationships, and community organizing to make change. With the mentorship of Green Newton president Marcia Cooper and the Green Newton community, I realized my capacity and passion for environmental action from the neighborhood to the state and federal level. In my years volunteering for Green Newton, I gained invaluable skills and knowledge of environmental education, home energy, and land use by talking with students, parents, and neighbors at farmers markets, mother’s clubs, School Connections meetings, and city council and school committee meetings.

My time with Green Newton has inspired me immensely and has led me to pursue a career in environmental policy or law. This summer, I was lucky enough to intern at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in Washington, D.C. as a Resilient Communities advocacy fellow. My department, Resilient Communities, has a unique focus on advocating for equitable energy access, clean buildings and housing, and sustainable transportation options for BIPOC and low income communities across the United States.

In my role, I researched equitable climate metrics in order to measure the impacts my team’s work had in the BIPOC and frontline communities it sought to engage with and improve outcomes for and hold our team accountable to our goals. I highlighted the importance of using both quantitative and qualitative (think storytelling and community testimonials) data to measure outcomes, as well as using an asset-based co-creation process. This ended up being a 12-page internal memo and presentation and will hopefully be integral in NRDC strategy discussions.

I also researched the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s governance and funding structures to create a briefing deck for our national and state partners, and wrote a blog on this work. My research will ultimately help advocates ensure funding is distributed equitably and towards pedestrian, bike, and public transit infrastructure. This deck will be presented to coalition members so that cities and states can fully capture funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and advocate to state Departments of Transportation.

I am forever thankful for Marcia and Green Newton for teaching me so much about environmental advocacy. I certainly would not be at Duke pursuing environmental policy without the guidance and support of our wonderful environmental community in Newton.