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UNE student among winners of Brookie environmental awards

“If the entire world is stemming into chaos, what’s something that I can do?” Kiara Frischkorn, a marine studies student, said.

PORTLAND, Maine — If there's one topic that comes up at family dinners and almost always ends in a political disagreement, it's climate change.

But if your name is Kiara Frischkorn, the changing environment is not something to argue about. Instead, it’s an opportunity to make a positive change before it’s too late, and one environmental organization is taking notice.

“If the entire world is stemming into chaos, what’s something that I can do?” Frischkorn, a marine studies student at the University of New England, told NEWS CENTER Maine about experiences that transformed her life. 

Her journey into activism began at a young age when she was visiting her family on the other side of the world in the Philippines.

“Instead of wildfires it’s typhoons that are just decimating entire islands, and it keeps on happening, and these typhoons keep on getting stronger,” Frischkorn said. 

The emotion in her voice comes through when she talks about her deep passion for something she’s been experiencing her entire life. 

One memory that sticks out is from her time growing up in a big West Coast city troubled by major pollution. You guessed it, Los Angeles.

"[The] repetitive process of people’s lives being ultimately destroyed because of climate change and I can’t escape it, so I think we need to do something about it,” Frischkorn said as she was thinking back to her experiences in the second biggest city in the United States and one of the most polluted.

But before you think the next step is taking a huge action to change the world, it’s not that way yet. You have to start small. 

“For me that was just going to beach and realizing that there is litter on the ground and just pick it up," she said. 

Frischkorn said her efforts are beginning to build momentum, and she's getting others involved, signs of a true leader with a passion burning brightly inside.

   

“Being able to pick up one piece of trash any time you go on the beach can already make a difference, and through my activism and working with amazing people we’ve already been able to organize huge beach cleanups to see change happen,” Frischkorn said, thinking back to when it all started coming together. 

One step, taking action, others follow. This is how it all starts to make real change.

How much trash can a small group collect on Maine beaches? How about 1,000 pounds? Yes, that’s what one person with a will to make a difference can start, and people are taking notice.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine got wind of Frischkorn's work, and it wasn’t hard for Todd Martin, director of NRCM Rising, to see who one of their next Brookie Award winners would be.

“It’s really just uplifting to meet these incredibly inspiring young people, hear their stories, and to provide a platform to share their stories with other folks here in Maine,” Martin said over Zoom. 

The joy in his eyes and excitement in his voice is evident as he speaks about Frischkorn and the other award winners.

“I’m really thrilled that NRCM is investing in an awards program through the Brookie Awards to recognize and celebrate the incredible youth leadership here in Maine on the climate and environmental movement,” Martin said. 

With joy beaming from his face, it’s easy to see how proud he is of the program and the award winners furthering Maine’s environmental movement.

To learn more about Frischkorn's story and the other Brookie Award winners, go to https://www.brookieawards.org.

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