Commentary

Environmental Activism at The Governor’s Academy

A recent Governer's Academy meeting sets impacts towards centering activism towards our community.

Photo credit to Porter Gifford
Allies and Partners
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Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest educational opinions about fostering
environmental stewardship and leadership coordinated by ACES — The Alliance of Climate and
Environmental Stewards.

On the 10th of October, the first collaborative meeting between ACES and The Governor's Academy, located in Byfield, took place. The school's Environmental Club, alongside the Govs Green Initiative, came together with the ACES team, a group equally dedicated to ecological stewardship. The convergence was held at the newly opened Bill '67 and Peter '71 Alfond Coastal Research Center, a state-of-the-art building that capitalizes on the Academy's unique location on the Great Marsh and Parker River and deepens the school's commitment to experiential and place-based learning. We extend our gratitude to Erika Mitkus, Director of the Bass Institute, for her assistance. With her guidance, we aim to make the most of this regional resource, which promises to be instrumental in advancing our sustainability efforts.

One of the most notable outcomes of this meeting is the Sustainability Conference. Designed to unite environmental clubs from the surrounding schools, the conference is poised to reinvigorate the momentum that many of these clubs lost during the pandemic. Through this initiative, the Academy is looking to re-engage students with the environmental challenges of our time and equip them with the tools to enact change.

The Governor's Academy and its students are dedicated to sustainability, particularly evident in the launch of the Govs Green Initiative in the fall of 2022. Sparked by a group of environmentally minded students, this initiative is rooted in the belief that young leadership is key to a sustainable future. The student-led initiative has turned the spotlight on the Academy’s existing green features, like the Organic Garden and its green-certified dining hall. In combination with Environmental Club, (E-Club) their ambitions go far beyond raising awareness; they seek to transform understanding into action, to morph the campus into a place where sustainability is both practiced and preached. Since its inception, the initiative has taken commendable strides, organized Earth Week, and immersing the school community in environmental issues and solutions through a series of events and hands-on experiences. 

The Govs Green Initiative hopes to keep expanding, creating change at both the Governor’s Academy and the greater Newburyport area. With this, the team of students aspires to also establish a sustainability pledge into the Academy's strategic plan. This pledge would be a precursor to a series of tangible changes on campus, including the development of a nature walk, a sustainability conference, and a program aimed at helping students establish internships and learning opportunities with local environmental organizations.

As the academic year unfolded, environmental youth-leaders including Todd Santos ‘24, Miffy Wang ‘24, and Sophia Mikelinich ‘24 are prepared to propel these initiatives further. The establishment of Govs Green and E-club aimed to illuminate the sustainability on campus are critical in this juncture. They envisioned a partnership with ACES that could spark inspiration and ignite new environmental strategies.

This collaborative meeting has since become a catalyst for support from the wider Newburyport community. It has been an immersive step towards a greener future and a central component of the Academy’s ongoing approach to community involvement. This ongoing effort not only contributes to the present but also lays a solid foundation for the Academy’s environmental activism in the future.

This meeting became a concrete foundation of support from the greater community of Newburyport. This approach has continued to help us in centering our activism towards our community and fostering a stronger hope for the future.

ACES team members encourage you to take advantage of supporting all youth engaged in environmental
stewardship and activism. Please share any thoughts about other opportunities to benefit the health of
our planet and send us a note at acesnewburyport@gmail.com.To learn more about ACES and its
Initiatives, visit https://www.aces-alliance.org.

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about the co-authors
Miffy Yiqiao Wang 24’

Miffy Wang 24’, from Hong Kong, studies at The Governor’s academy
in Byfield MA. She is an avid environmentalist as the founder of The
Gov’s Green Initiative and a co-head of E-Club at school.

Todd Santos 24'

Todd Santos is a senior at The Governor’s Academy and a dedicated environmental advocate, living with his family in Newburyport, MA. Todd’s experience at The Island School in Eleuthera, The Bahamas, opened a new door for him and his commitment to ecological stewardship and sustainability. Todd has brought his passion to Gov’s, where he is excelling academically and actively involved in environmental initiatives. He’s a member of the environmental club, participates in the school’s sustainability program, and serves on the Gov’s Green Initiative board. Outside of school, Todd enjoys rowing, tennis, and travel. He works at The Cottage on Plum Island and volunteers at the Newbury Food Pantry.

Sophia Mikelinich 24’

Sophia Mikelinich 24’, from Stratham, NH, studies at The Governor’s Academy in Byfield MA. She spends her time hiking and running outside. She is one of the leaders of E-club and Govs Green.