HAMPDEN, Maine — While many kids were watching TV or playing video games, 12-year-old Dustin Ramsay was busy protecting Maine’s environment. Recently he was honored for his efforts with the 2008 Natural Resources Council of Maine Environmental Award.
“I first met Dustin Ramsay two years ago, when he and his mother Melanie attended NRCM’s Citizen Action Day,” said council Executive Director Brownie Carson. “That day, the weather was bad — a snow-storm kept many would-be participants away. But Dustin showed up and lobbied both of his legislators effectively on the most important climate legislation of the session. His senator had not been aware of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, but after speaking with Dustin he not only learned about the bill but ended up voting in support of it.”
At a recent Citizen Action Day, Dustin demonstrated in front of an overflow crowd of participants his grasp of energy efficiency building code legislation, which will save new Maine homeowners money on energy costs. He put his knowledge into action at the State House, and found himself shaking hands with the governor.
In addition to meeting with his elected officials, Dustin started green team, a school-based environmental club run by the students in his elementary school in Hampden.
When Dustin graduated from that school last year, he took steps to make sure his work would be continued, and immediately started a green team at his new school, Reeds Brook Middle School.
Green teams brainstorm environmental projects and activities to promote positive changes in their schools and communities to save the planet. They have organized sales of compact fluorescent light bulbs, led energy and light patrols in the schools and organized educational film nights and tours of local landfills and recycling facilities.
Dustin has taken the green team concept on the road, putting together green team tool kits for schools throughout the state.
In his acceptance speech, given at the council’s annual meeting held in Hallowell, Dustin said, “I appreciate the honor even more because NRCM has recognized a young person. The fact that young people are getting recognition is great! After all, we are the ones inheriting this planet.”
He also called on everyone in the audience to get young people involved in environmental activism, saying, “the more you prepare them and get them involved now, the better off everyone will be in the future.”
“Dustin is a true inspiration, not only to his peers, but for people of all generations,” said Brownie Carson. “That is why it is such a pleasure to present Dustin with a 2008 NRCM Environmental Award.”