Voices for Climate Action: An AmeriCorps CCAC Fellow's Journey to Introducing President Biden
In this inspiring blog, written by Chiena Ty herself, we delve into her life as a California Climate Action Corps (CCAC) Fellow within BACR's National Service Program. Chiena's transformative journey as a climate action advocate unfolds as she shares her experiences and the significant impact of the CA Climate Action Corps program. From pursuing a career in sustainable marketing to discovering her purpose in eco-conscious work, we witness Chiena's involvement in immersive sustainable food and fashion projects, particularly at the organization site White Pony Express. Throughout her fellowship, she wholeheartedly embraced every opportunity to speak about CCAC, culminating in an unforgettable moment of introducing President Biden. This blog not only highlights the power of one voice in driving climate action but also showcases the collective efforts of like-minded individuals, including Chiena Ty, who are part of BACR's National Service Program CA Climate Action Corps, coming together to make a lasting difference in the fight against climate change.
What is life like as a California Climate Action Corps Fellow? Well, I get to live one part immersed in sustainable food and fashion and another part as a climate action advocate. As a CA Climate Action Corps (CCAC) Fellow I have found your experience is what you make of it.
Figuring out your career plan for the next couple years is no walk in the park. As a 2019 UC Riverside graduate in Sustainability Studies with a minor in Media and Cultural Studies, I have an ultimate goal of diving into sustainable marketing, but paving a path to that goal takes work. Since graduating I have pursued retail work at a B Corp Certified company, taken online marketing courses, worked for marketing internships, and landed a digital marketer position. While I could have continued on that marketing route, I felt something was missing, my purpose in the type of marketing I was pursuing. Through the various marketing positions I learned that I could not continue marketing for just any role I didn’t feel inspired by everyday and that I didn’t feel eager to share about all the time. So, in 2022 I walked into the CCAC program knowing that I was ready to be involved in eco-conscious, environmentalist work in any way, shape, or form.
I grew interested in CCAC because it was a state-wide program with a network of many like-minded individuals from different walks of life. I wanted to make a difference at a local level, and be part of the emerging common concept of climate action. The fight against climate change has always felt like a daunting wall of "where in the world do I start?", but being a part of the CA Climate Action Corps has been a continuous step in the right direction of educating others, reducing our waste, greening our spaces, building climate resiliency and so much more. In this program I feel as though I am a part of 2 partner organizations. The first one is part of my local community and somewhere that I can be committed to for nearly a year, and the other, an occasional check-in point that is part of the bigger picture of what I want to continuously work towards - climate action.
At my organization site White Pony Express (WPE), we work on a variety of consistent projects and various new ones based on our interests and ideas. I've been able to establish with my site supervisor that my ultimate goal in this program is to improve my marketing experience in the sustainable space. Because there was also a need for this at WPE, I’ve prioritized working on content capture of WPE in action at our food distribution center, general store, traveling to pick up food from donors, volunteer appreciation events, hosting interviews and more. I create graphics for WPE volunteer events, organize our photo and video storage, and edit the content I capture.
As a CCAC fellow and member of AmeriCorps, I also have a major goal to recruit and assist new volunteers at my site. The work at WPE would not be possible without the hundreds of volunteers signed up to assist with food rescue, so we are constantly interested in reinforcing our volunteer sign-ups with new and regular volunteers. In addition to connecting our fellowship to our site, I work with another site fellow to highlight WPE’s involvement with climate action. Since the founding of WPE in 2013, 25,000 tons of CO2 emissions have been prevented from entering the air we breathe from all the food and goods, like clothing, they’ve diverted from landfills. For me, the aspect of connecting environmentally conscious climate action to the work I do was a valuable part of my growing pride for the program. The other value was the door to connections and opportunities with CCAC.
When I mentioned the fellowship is what you make of it, I truly believe it can be as spontaneous and engaging or consistent and independent as you desire. During my service I was most proud of reaching for opportunities to speak about the optimistic outlook of the CA Climate Action Corps Fellowship to those who may have never heard of such a program. I got to speak in a promotional social media video, at an Earth Day event in Sacramento, in a Washington DC Climate Change Preparedness Conference, and lastly, during a presidential address on Historic Climate Action.
For the latest speaking opportunity I attended, I was initially considered a potential speaker for a high profile event I knew nothing about. Throughout the fellowship I learned to ingrain the thought that every opportunity, big or small, were significant opportunities for me to share the word that individuals passionate, concerned, and driven to protect our environment can come together and make an impact in their local organizations.
Because of this mindset, I was so ready for whatever speaking event I would be a part of. Before I knew it, I was notified that the speaking opportunity would actually be to introduce President Biden and share about the incredible CCAC program to hopefully encourage other states to adopt it! I believe I was chosen to represent the program from a mix of being passionate about the work I do, constantly sharing about what I’m up to in the program on socials, having experience being a part of several speaking opportunities for CCAC, and for being quick and present when offered this opportunity.
The crazy part is at the beginning of this program I was not as confident with my voice and speaking skills to promote what work my site White Pony Express or CCAC does, but the further I understood climate action can take place in so many different ways, is focused on diverse but equally valuable climate concerns/fields, the more confident I grew in the mindset that sharing about climate action is a valuable skill and role that one can take. After service I plan on continuing to be a climate action advocate and to utilize my skills and creativity in capturing real time action and designing graphics that educate others about an organization or company's role in helping the environment.
My experience in service has opened my eyes to the power of how one voice can touch and connect to so many other like-minded individuals. I am so thankful for the connections and updates of other CCAC Fellows doing valuable, diverse work in their sites inspiring me to work hard and share about mine. I am grateful to see volunteers at my site that show up regularly and lovingly share their time to help neighbors in need and conclusively divert food waste in landfills and help the quality of air we breathe as well. Without this program, I would have never got to experience the depth and awe of the work that can be done when communities come together.
As I reflect on these connections, I feel blessed as a fellow to be the bridge to tie it together and understand it is part of the bigger picture of climate action being tracked and recorded in multiple ways by the CCAC Fellowship. At times the fight against climate change still feels like a daunting maze of never-ending obstacles, but through being a part of the CA Climate Action Corps, I recognize our work is taking a step towards fighting it everywhere, every day, and that is something I want to be a part of.
Ready to Make a Difference through National Service? Be a Fellow with AmeriCorps and CCAC, or Explore Other AmeriCorps Programs Click Here to Learn More: https://www.bacr.org/americorps