In March 2019, youth participants from the Los Angeles communities of South LA and Wilmington, along with youth organizers from their respective communities and USC Environmental Health staff presented at the annual Citizen Science Conference, held this year in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The group presented during a workshop comprised of groups from around the country: Building Collaboration and Ensuring Justice in Community-Based Participatory Research: Lessons Learned from California, South Carolina, and Michigan.
The two youth who presented have shared the following reflections about their experience presenting and attending the conference:
Ashley Lazaro, 12th grade, South Central Youth Leadership Coalition
The highlight of my trip was having the opportunity to share my story with others and being able to connect with others that were dealing with similar situations. This trip taught me to be more assertive and to stand up for myself. I learned to not feel inferior or intimidated by anyone and that my voice as a youth is powerful.
To me citizen science means science or research that is conducted by the community itself. However, I do wish it was called people's science to be more inclusive to my immigrant community. Citizen science gives me the opportunity to defend myself. Taking the research into my own hands gives me and my community power against big industries who try to make us feel inferior.
In the future I hope that the Day in the Life project can expand to more youth in the community. It was a helpful and fun project. Next time, people can journal their journey or it can be expanded to a week in the life.
Viridia Preciado, 12th grade, Communities for a Better Environment
The highlight of my trip was exploring a new place and exploring all it had to offer. What I took away from this trip was understanding that not only my community is going through all of this environmental racism, but others around the world are going through similar things. If parts of my community have came together to fight for environmental justice, why can’t the whole world do that to get what was once stolen from us. The right to clean air, water, soil, and so much more.
What citizen science means to me is the work and research done by individuals in our community to make that change and present it back to others to inform them. CBE may not use the term citizen science to describe our work, but it connects with our work because the community is really the ones who do all the work to mark a change in this world.
It would be great to involve more people to really experience this great program and to fully understand what it’s like to be in their community.
In addition to Ms. Lazaro and Ms. Preciado, conference presenters from A Day in the Life program included:
Ashley Hernandez, Community Organizer, Communities for a Better Environment
Sandy Navarro, Media Consultant and Community Organizer, LA Grit Media and South Central Youth Leadership Coalition
Wendy Gutschow, Community Engagement Administrator, USC Division of Environmental Health