Home State Nebraska youth strike for climate change awareness, reform

Nebraska youth strike for climate change awareness, reform

Climate Strikers at the capitol
Climate Strike participants listening to speakers outside the Nebraska State Capitol Building. (Photo by Sarah Parkin)

A series of climate strikes reached its finale on Friday as Nebraskans gathered at the UNL Union Plaza and marched to the State Capitol to voice their demands for climate action. 

The strike was held by Sustain UNL. According to their website, Sustain UNL is a recognized student organization that promotes environmental sustainability through activism, education and service-engagement. 

Aila Ganic of Lincoln serves on the committee planning these climate strikes within Sustain UNL. 

“It’s our future,” the freshman said. “As students, we don’t want anybody to take that away from us just because they don’t want to make the changes necessary or because they don’t understand the science behind it or don’t want to make that financial shift.”

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Strikers marched across Q Street on their way to the capitol building during the December 6th Climate Strike. (Photo by Sarah Parkin)

This is the last of 12 consecutive strikes that Sustain UNL has held. On September 20th, the first climate strike took place when the United Nations met for its Youth Climate Summit. The strikes were part of a global day of striking conducted by the Sunrise Movement, a grassroots organization led by young people desiring climate change reform.

After meeting at the Union Plaza, strikers were led by members of Sustain UNL to the steps of the Capitol Building. Speakers used a megaphone to motivate the crowd over the sounds of the K Street traffic. 

One of those speakers was Zachary Renshaw of Doane University. He discussed the potential Nebraska has to transfer to 100 percent renewable energy. Renshaw pointed out how no snow was on the ground that day, which is unusual for December in Nebraska. 

“We know what is causing this,” Renshaw said. “It is a man-made commitment to destroying the planet using fossil fuels.”

Most of the strikers were young people, from elementary-schoolers to college students. 

A few speakers were Prairie Hill Middle Schoolers from Roca, Neb. These students had participated in all of the weekly climate strikes. 

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Zachary Renshaw of Doane University discussed renewable energy outside the capitol during the Climate Strike. (Photo by Sarah Parkin)

Taylor Hammerich, a sixth-grader at Prairie Hill, wishes she didn’t have to be at the march that day. 

“I wish I could stay home and ignore the slow destruction of our world,” Hammerich said. “My future is in the hands of people who don’t care about it. They are sacrificing our planet and my future in the name of profit.” 

Some of the other demands the strikers and Sustain UNL called for in Nebraska included passing a state climate action plan, transitioning to regenerative agriculture, harnessing renewable energy and saying no to the Keystone XL Pipeline. 

This strike may be the last of its series, but the effort won’t stop there. According to Ganic, strikes will be held throughout the spring as well. The largest of these will occur on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd. 

This will also occur during the spring legislative session in Nebraska where senators will be proposing, discussing and passing new bills into law. 

According to Ganic, one of the bills being proposed by State Sen. Rick Kolowski of Omaha will be a climate action proposal written by Prairie Hill Middle Schoolers. 

“I think we’re being seen. I think we’re being heard,” Ganic said. “I’m hoping that something more will come up next legislative session.” 

I am a senior journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I also study global studies and political science. . I am particularly interested in human rights-based journalism and hope to pursue a career reporting human rights issues domestically and internationally. I am originally from Aberdeen, South Dakota