WWF Youth Conservation Leadership Award

Recognizing young leaders in the environmental space

The WWF-US Youth Conservation Leadership Award celebrates the achievements of exceptional young people working toward conservation solutions in the United States.

It seeks to inspire other young people to get involved in opportunities within their communities.

Four Lobby Day participants walk in front of the United States Capitol Building. WWF-US / Deb Lindsey

This award recognizes and celebrates...

Youth leaders in their community who are making outstanding contributions for the environment—leading initiatives across issues including climate change mitigation, environmental justice, biodiversity, wildlife conservation, food waste, habitat protection, and more.

Gabby Ahmadia, senior marine scientist at WWF, surveys a reef in the Selat Dampier MPA, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia. James Morgan / WWF-US

Are you leading a community that adds exceptional value to the movement to protect our planet? Does your project create new avenues for the fight against threats like climate change and biodiversity loss?

You could be awarded $5,000 to be used to help fund academic and/or professional development related to your conservation work.

Meet the winners

Charitie looking at camera

Indigenous scientist, scholar, and climate activist

© Charitie Ropati
Charitie Ropati, 2023

Charitie Ropati (she/her) is an Indigenous environmental and education activist of Yup’ik and Samoan descent. She is a researcher who studies the intersections of plant ecology, permafrost, and cultural resilience in coastal Native communities. She also works on the Co-Production of knowledge and is a member of the Earth Network at the Columbia Climate School. Charitie co-founded lilnativegirlinSTEM, a community supporting Native women and girls in science. She is also an Arctic Youth Ambassador and Arctic Resilient Youth Communities Fellow. In high school, Charitie worked to implement an accurate and inclusive sub-curriculum of Indigenous peoples in Western pedagogy in Alaska.

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Alexia standing in the desert looking at the camera

Environmental justice organizer, educator and scholar

© Beatrice Bucht
Alexia Leclercq, 2022

Alexia Leclercq (she/they) is a grassroots organizer, educator, scholar, and artist. She has led dozens of environmental justice campaigns from passing national climate and chemical reform legislation and fighting for clean water, to addressing aggregate mining pollution, relocating toxic tank farms, and organizing mutual aid. Alexia is the co-founder of the Colorado River Conservancy and of an education non-profit named Start: Empowerment; Alexia graduated from New York University where she published research on the commodification of land and also holds a Master of Education degree from Harvard University.

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Jasmin sitting in a chair and smiling wearing a royal blue outfit.

Shark scientist, educator and social justice activist

© Cassie Wegeng
Jasmin Graham, 2021

Jasmin (she/her) is a shark scientist and environmental educator who specializes in shark and ray ecology and evolution. Her research interests include smalltooth sawfish movement ecology and hammerhead shark phylogeny. Jasmin is the President and CEO of Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS), an organization dedicated to supporting women of color in shark sciences. She is excited to help open doors for more underrepresented minority students to join the exciting field of marine science. Her work encompasses the areas of science communication, social justice, outreach, education and conservation.

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headshot of Alexa White

Agroecologist and food sovereignty advocate

© Courtesy of Alexa White
Alexa White, 2020

Alexa (she/her) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. An agroecologist and herpetologist, her dissertation research focuses on biophysical indicators of sustainable agriculture and international climate governance pertaining to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #2: To End Hunger. Alexa is the Co-Founder of the AYA Research Institute, an environmental justice non-profit. She is also a Policy Entrepreneurship Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists and an Agent of Change in Environmental Justice fellow.

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Close-up of Maka at a podium giving a speech.

Indigenous activist, poet, storyteller and climate advocate

© WWF-US/Keith Arnold
Maka Monture Päki, 2019

Maka (she/her) is an Indigenous author, campaigner, scholar, storyteller, poet, and ceremonial performer from southeast Alaska. Of Tlingit(Lingit), Mohawk, Filipina and Canadian Kanien'keha:ka decent, she was born in Anchorage and is from Yakutat, of the Raven moiety, Copper River Clan, House of the Owl. Her Tlingit name is Keixe Yaxti meaning "Morning Star." Maka resides in Anchorage, Alaska, where she dedicates her personal and professional time to environmental and social advocacy on behalf of Indigenous and non-indigenous youth and women.

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