Zoë Batterman is currently a senior at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, where her major interests include philosophy, environmental science, and competitive robotics. She is very much looking forward to beginning her undergraduate studies next year, with the ultimate goal of pursuing a graduate degree in Operations Research and Financial Engineering. Since learning how the meat and dairy industries contribute to global warming, Zoë has been a committed vegan. She is a citizen of both the US and France and aspires to work collaboratively with international partners to help solve some of our most pressing problems.
"Frightened about climate change, I wondered why the adults around me resisted the idea of changing their lifestyle when the situation clearly called for it. From the food to the prevailing culture of the school, I realised that there were many opportunities within education to effect change. With a 10-month mentorship in mind, I aimed to conceive of projects that were at the same time impactful and expedient.
Working in school environments not only provides an opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of schools, but it also allows for education initiatives to change the prevailing culture and help create future generations of informed and responsible citizens. In terms of reducing the carbon footprint, I plan to: collaborate with alternative meat (Beyond
Meat, Impossible Burger) and dairy companies (Flaxmilk) to give students healthier options by working with nutritionists; reduce food waste by having schools compost; exchange disposable plastic utensils and Styrofoam plates with biodegradable and reusable ones; and collaborate with public and private entities to place solar panels on every school. In terms of education, we plan to: implement a curricular unit on environmental issues to include impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, and the agricultural monocultures that destroy the land; launch anti-litter campaigns in schools and around the city; and create a “Sustainability Advisory Board” of dedicated students and scientists that will keep an eye on current projects and propose new ones."
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
"Having grown up in a post-Katrina and post-BP-oil-spill New Orleans, I came of age in a city that was in the midst of repairing itself and renewing its identity. It was the realization of New Orleans’ true uniqueness that inspired well-wishers from all over the world to bring it back from the brink. Though I was too young to take an active role in preserving New Orleans, I now have the opportunity to focus on an issue of global significance in a highly specific local context and to serve my home and community."