by Stewart M., a member of the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council

The famous Christmas song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” asks, “another year over, and what have you done?” We all might be thinking this to ourselves as 2015 draws to a close. I for one, am glad to be able to look back at this year and see everything that my fellow members of the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) and I have accomplished in order to better the world.

The 37 young people who make up the NYLC completed a combined 2,975 hours of service in 2015. Those hours were collected through 344 service projects for people, animals, and the environment. In addition, the council spoke about Dr. Jane and Roots & Shoots at 211 different speaking engagements

Perhaps one of my favorite service projects this year was one we participated in as a group at our 2015 National Youth Leadership Council Summit in Orlando, Florida. We visited Clean the World, a very cool organization that takes used hotel toiletries and sanitizes and repackages them to distribute to people who don’t have reliable access to personal hygiene products.

Another impactful project completed this year by the NYLC as a whole was collecting electronics in honor of JGI’s International Day for Mobile Phone Recycling. We collected over 5,000 cell phones and accessories for recycling through Eco Cell

A few members of the NYLC had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica to participate in EF’s Global Student Leadership Summit while others spoke before the United Nations and everyone put lots of time and hard work into the causes that are important to them.

As for me, I accepted the challenge of teaching others in my community about environmentalism and conservation. I achieved this goal by forming a Roots & Shoots group where I met with over 80 kids from our local Boys and Girls Club on more than 20 occasions. One of our first projects was to build and install bluebird houses. We also learned about panda conservation, studied solar energy, learned about water pollution and built water filters, and more. Of course it wasn’t all studying and learning, we did a lot of monkeying around also! 

This year has been a successful one for the NYLC and I am proud to have been a part of this group of amazing, passionate, young volunteers. It makes me feel good to know that there are teens like me out there changing the world in major ways! 

If you would like to know more about the NYLC and what the group has accomplished, click here. What have you done in service of your community this year? Will your New Year’s Resolution be to have a greater impact in 2016?