She speaks for the trees
Sarah Jo Lambert, 17, Lubbock, Texas; Lorax Lounge founder | Photo by John A. Bowersmith
"I love being outside, scraping my knees, spending time in nature. I wanted other kids to experience the same feeling. So for my Girl Scout Gold Award project, I decided to design an eco-education center where kids can learn about the environment and sustainability.
"I started fundraising for the project when I was 14, and it was really tough at first. People didn't believe in me, that I could get it done. That was the biggest challenge—it's hard when people are telling you no. Eventually, I was able to raise $215,000 in money and equipment donations. The process was intense but so rewarding. I realized that unless someone decides to take a stand and make a difference, nothing gets done.
"Each weekend for two and a half years, I was out there at the construction site helping build the center. I learned how to use a backhoe and how to make bricks of compressed earth. Everything in the building is reused or recycled. It has solar panels and a hail-damaged roof we reused. Everything is just 100 percent green.
"I wrote a curriculum that goes along with the center. It's for all ages and includes fun things like field trips and a nature trail. Kids can learn about recycling and staying green and reducing their carbon footprint. The earlier you learn something, the easier it sticks with you, and you're going to pass it on to your own kids and everything.
"The eco-center was finished in October 2009, and I named it the Lorax Lodge, after the Dr. Seuss book about the environment. Dr. Seuss always has great messages in his crazy poems, and he really believed in the power of kids. Adults aren't as powerful as kids because kids are the future."
—interview by Sarah A. Henderson
In a 2002 study, eight-year-olds correctly identified more Pokemon characters than they did wildlife species.
For more on Lambert and the Lorax Lodge, go to visionisgreen.wordpress.com and blog.epa.gov/blog/tag/lorax-lodge.