SustainaBytes: Meet Sustainability Educator Jordan Howard

Introducing Friday Sustainabytes!

As part of the ongoing efforts by the DPS Go Green Challenge, we offer you Friday Sustainabytes.  Each week we will feature articles that highlight the work of deep green innovators and projects from around the world, in an effort to keep our teachers, administrators, and participants of the Go Green Challenge up-to-date on cutting edge work in the field of sustainability.  You may wish to share the information with your students, adding to foundational understanding of what it means not just to “green wash”, but what it means to REALLY go green!

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Featured in Ebony’s Magazine “Power and Money 100”, Jordan Howard is just 21 but she is already accomplishing great achievements in the field of environmental education and activism. As a Sustainability educator, she has made a name for herself in the Green industry. She has received awards from organizations including The Green Building Council and The Tavis Smiley Foundation. But more than anything else, Jordan is the proponent of power that knowledge can wield — particularly when in the hands of youth.

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At 15, the South L.A. native enrolled in Lawndale’s Environmental Charter School for high school. Neither she nor her parents were “green” proponents at the time, however the school’s excellent reputation provided Jordan the college-ready atmosphere she was looking for. She quickly found herself a fish out of water though, as this environmental curriculum was nothing to which she had ever been exposed; as a result she found herself the only one in her class to constantly question the new aged dogma taught in the classroom.

It was a fateful, eye-opening lecture one day that showed Jordan environmental education was more than just the doom and gloom of climate change. The lecture pinpointed concrete solutions to many of our sustainability issues — issues rooted in more than just the environment. Jordan found the inspiration and energy to put towards a problem that had previously only seemed nebulous and unsolvable. She found herself armed with the information to create change.

With the understanding that environmental and social issues intersect, Jordan decided that it was her duty to pay this education forward. She’s championed education on diabetes, food deserts, and eating locally. As a way to battle these issues, she taught others how to plant and effectively utilize urban gardens. Jordan herself keeps a garden with squash, herbs, fruit trees, kale, and more. Her education efforts have extended far beyond the reaches of her hometown. She has conducted youth education programs as far as India in Delhi, Bombay and Chennai. A key component of Jordan’s educational agenda lies in empowerment. Educational conferences are great, but they can also be ephemeral with teaching tools lasting only as long as the meeting room reservation. To combat this, Jordan teaches that valuable and lasting narratives can be told through educational filmmaking. With storyboarding techniques, technical and financial resources, Jordan empowers children to see their goals through to fruition.

Just a short time after Jordan began pursuing environmental issues fervently as a high school sophomore, a mentor asked her to speak at Barack Obama’s 2008 event, Angelenos Go Green For Obama, where she introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Hillary Clinton. This speech spawned what is now a prolific speaking career for the 21 year-old, who has given Ted Talks and just a week ago delivered a speech in New Orleans to Environmental Grantmakers Association — an organization who last year alone facilitated over $4 billion in environmental funding. Make no mistake about it, though Jordan is old enough to only have voted in one presidential election, she is a voice that demands to be heard; a force to be reckoned with among the environmental and entrepreneurial community; and an agent of change.

Find out more about her on jordaninspires.com

Be the change YOU wish to see.
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