Youth Honored by Earth Island Institute

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In an age where nature deficit disorder is a growing problem (albeit not a verified medical condition) among America’s youth, it’s refreshing to hear about young people leading the charge for environmental awareness and action. The recipients of the 2011 Brower Youth Awards are between the ages of 15 and 21, and they’ve been chosen by the Earth Island Institute for their work on projects that support the environment — from raising awareness to raising funds and developing sustainable projects that yield tangible results.

Named after prominent environmentalist David Brower, the awards are meant to honor young people leading the way in environmental activism. Brower served as the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club (1952 – 1969) and founded the Earth Island Institute in 1982. What’s even more encouraging is that hundreds of young people applied for the award, a promising sign that the next generation hasn’t entirely left the great outdoors for the seemingly limitless possibilities available to us behind glowing rectangles.

These environmental leaders were selected by a panel of eight judges, including Dr. Vandana Shiva, an author and environmentalist honored by the UN, May Boeve, Executive Director and Co-Founder of, and best-selling environmental author Paul Hawken. The award ceremony will take place on October 18 at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco.

Meet these environmental leaders:

Victor Davila (17) of New York teaches environmental and health education through skateboarding.

Alexander Epstein (20) of Pennsylvania empowers communities in New Orleans and Philadelphia to develop sustainable projects from the ground up.

Tania Pulido (21) of California nourishes her community through urban gardening.

Junior Walk (21) of West Virginia challenges the coal industry in his Appalachian community.

Rhiannon Tomtishen (15) and Madison Vorva (16) of Michigan lobbied the Girl Scouts to green their iconic cookies.

Kyle Thiermann (21) of California created surf videos that created millions of dollars in environmentally responsible investments.

Recipients of the Brower Youth Award have, over the past twelve years, raised millions of dollars for environmental causes and have become involved in advocacy, policy, politics, and film-making. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.