Abigayle Reese ’20, a global studies and business marketing major, is involved in many environmental and diversity groups across campus. Last July, Reese was selected to participate in the Friends of the Earth Fellowship.
Friends of the Earth (FOE) is a grassroots organization pursuing the truth about the dangers facing the environment. It seeks to understand environmental issues on a deeper level by addressing the impact of social issues. The goals of the group drew Reese in and made her the ideal candidate for the fellowship.
The Friends of the Earth Fellowship is a program for anyone who desires to advocate for the environment, and Reese was encouraged to apply upon learning more about the organization.
“You cannot address environmental issues without addressing racism, classicism, sexism, and so on,” Reese said. “This really speaks to me as a person of color, and I wanted to be a part of a group that acknowledges the other issues in the world and how they play into environmental problems.”
As a fellow, Reese worked with FOE program leaders, members of Congress, and groups of volunteers organizing events across Minnesota to generate awareness of the environmental issues facing the planet. She has also participated in rallies, phone bankings, and national movements.
After completing the fellowship program, Reese was offered a senior fellow position in November, which she currently holds. As a senior fellow, Reese is a grassroots organizer and spends her time meeting with political leaders to advocate for a green future. She plans a variety of events including petition drives and campaign impact events.
While she values many aspects of the organization, the personal growth experiences have stood out to Reese as her favorite aspect.
“I think what I enjoy most is that everything I have ever done or participated in for this fellowship has helped me better myself as an organizer and leader,” Reese said. “FOE really focuses on giving you the tools for success and I enjoy all of the challenges and learning experiences I’ve had with the organization.”
These experiences have been not only educational but encouraging for Reese. Environmental issues are not political issues, she said. Small steps can be taken by anyone to create an environmentally friendly world.
“There are so many things you can do to help and they don’t have to be huge things or drastic changes,” Reese said. “Small changes add up, like not using plastic water bottles or buying recycled items.”