|Posted by Rohan Muthanna on January 11, 2012 at 5:35 PM|
Written By Ashley Neal, Atlanta Small Business Examiner
Editor’s note: This article is a Top 25 finalist for America Inspired. The contest celebrates extraordinary people making a difference across the United States. We invite you to cast your vote for the most compelling article in the Outstanding Youth category as well as the four other America Inspired categories. After voting closes on Jan. 27, the finalists with the most votes in each category will share $100,000 in prizes.
While the average teen is concerned about zits, dating, and social media – 16-year-old CEO Charles Orgbon III is more concerned about the ‘big picture’ of the planet and how he can be instrumental in saving it.
Since the age of 12, Charles has been involved in the fight to save the planet. After noticing that his school had a problem with litter he decided to take matters into his own hands and share the importance of preserving the planet with whoever would listen. He created a website called Recycling Education that served as a resource addressing various environmental issues. At that time he also created the Earth Savers Club, a youth-lead organization that addresses environmental issues.
With each environmental project and the knowledge that he was acquiring, Charles became more passionate about his plight to help save the planet. He really had a vision that Recycling Education could encourage youth to join the green movement. In 2010 Recycling Education’s name was changed to Greening Forward – the nonprofit environmental advocacy organization that sponsors Earth Savers Club. Charles is the CEO of Greening Forward.
The Earth Savers Club started with Charles and two other students and now it is international. There are six clubs in Georgia, 21 nationally, and three internationally (in Africa and Indonesia); with 500 members engaging 6,000 other people via community events.
“Our ultimate goal is to give young people a voice in their communities. We share the message regarding what we can do to protect the earth. Greening Forward provides the tools and support needed to implement programs so that young people can make an environmental difference in their communities. Youth are today, we are not the future,” commented Charles.
Charles and Greening Forward are working with educators to create lesson plans that incorporate youth voices into the learning process. Earth Force, a national nonprofit youth environmental organization helps to facilitate this mission.
“Earth Force has helped take Greening Forward to the national and international level. Since partnering with them things have lined up perfectly and they have been crucial to the success of Greening Forward. Dr. Lisa Bardwell [CEO of Earth Force] has taught me so many things and I am really grateful for the platform she has provided for Greening Forward to make a difference all over the world,” Charles stated.
Similar to his peers Charles likes to have fun. He also shares the pressure of maintaining good grades. However, unlike the majority of his peers he is running an international civic organization with limited monetary resources.
“Being a nonprofit, funding is vital to Greening Forward’s success. I have to obtain funding for the major projects that we do but I also have to get funding for things like my travel. Travel is essential to my professional development because I meet some of the smartest people in the environmental field and they are great resources and mentors. I also get exposed to the environmental problems in different regions and network with other Earth Savers Clubs. As a result I’m always looking for grants and financial resources,” Charles said.
In addition to being a high school student and CEO, Charles is also actively involved with various community groups. He attends Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Georgia where he an active member of the Key Club they are very supportive of Greening Forward and have volunteered over 10,000 hours. He is also a member of the Youth Service America Advisory Council and the Gwinnett Sierra Club.
Charles assures that even with the title and responsibilities of being CEO he is still a normal teen. He has found his passion at an early age and he is happy to pursue it every day. His advice to kids and teens that have a social cause they would like to support, “Identify what’s important to you, find a mentor, and a support network of like-minded people that will help you turn your idea into something.”
For 2012, there are a few projects Charles is excited about partnering with like introducing a bike share program to his high school, and partnering with a project that turns recycled umbrellas into clothing. After high school he would like to attend Harvard University and obtain a dual degree in Environmental Science and Public Policy. He would also like to continue growing Greening Forward both nationally and internationally.
When asked what motivates him, Charles said, “I truly think my motivation is no different than why an artist likes to paint or a musician to his craft. Helping to preserve the environment is a passion I truly enjoy. I meet amazing people and I get to see ideas put into actions. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I have found that you find life by using yourself in the service of others.”