California College Student Inspires Hundreds to Teach Thousands

Clinton Global Initiative University Recognizes 22-Year-Old Nonprofit Founder

This past weekend, 22-year-old UC Santa Barbara student Ryland King was recognized at the Clinton Global Initiative University conference for his work empowering youth to turn passive discourse about sustainability into collaborative action.

Especially uplifting in light of California’s recent $328 million cut to K-12 public educational services, Environmental Education for the Next Generation (EENG), founded by King, links college students with first and second grade classes for an 8-week program, engaging today’s youth in sustainable action, at zero cost to the school system.

“When you fuse the passion of a college student with the curiosity and excitement of a 7-year-old, you bring depth and dimension back into the classroom. But it doesn’t stay there—when children and young adults speak confidently about change, people listen,” King said.

Last year, King and EENG mobilized thousands of people to vote in a nationwide Facebook-based contest, winning $100,000 to spread the youth-focused program throughout California. King offered insight on his social media prowess to the hundreds of attendees at Clinton Global Initiative University in his presentation on Friday.

King began EENG in 2009 teaching 25 second graders in a single classroom. Now, the completely student-run organization teaches over 2,300 elementary school students in 90 classrooms across four California regions: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco.

Next Monday, April 9th, marks the launch of EENG’s spring program. King and his team of over 150 college student volunteers will return to classrooms, continuing their mission to instill sustainable action throughout communities, from the youngest members of society up.

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