“I think the most rewarding volunteer work I have done is simply educating people on the issues within our environment,” says Riley Kay Talbot, a Junior at Ursuline Academy.

Before Talbot learned about her environmental impact, she had no idea that one plastic straw would make the difference. Her sister, Sydney, took the time to show her the impact she can make and the problems she can create.

“When simply having conversations with people about the environment, we’re able to discuss and bring to light problems and potential solutions,” says Talbot.

Talbot’s activism has helped bring tremendous growth within her Ursuline community. For instance, her friends have switched to use sustainable alternatives such as reusable water bottles and straws.

Ursuline faculty members even approached her with new ideas for creating a more sustainable future at Ursuline. More people within Talbot’s community are bringing reusable water bottles to school to eliminate wasting plastic.

Talbot has gained leadership skills throughout her years in Student Council. Through the Ambassadors and Lion’s Pride programs, Talbot has spent a lot of time welcoming new and prospective students to Ursuline.

With those leadership skills, Talbot along with Marie Foret, Caroline MacLaren and Casey Talbot from the Key Club, helped created Ursulines Water Cup Initiative. The idea behind the initiative was to cut down on waste at school and the students identified that many students were using one to three water cups a day.

With the initiative, Ursuline selected a BPA-free insulated reusable cup as their solution. Since the event, Ursuline has gotten rid of the throw-away cups and only has the reusable plastic cup on their campus.

Beth Joubert, Ursuline’s Campus Minster, always pushed Talbot to be her best self to show her all the ways she can advocate for herself and the environment.

“She reminds me that I don’t have to be rich, famous or even an adult to make a difference. I can be exactly who I am, and be an activist for the environment,” says Talbot.

Talbot doesn’t have specific plans for college just yet, but she would like to study science. She hopes to continue to work with Ursuline and other schools in her community to make a more sustainable way of living.

Next school year, Talbot is attending a service trip through Ursuline at Bethlehem Farm. While on the farm Talbot will learn how to live sustainably, which will help her expand her environmental activism. She wants to bring these practices back home and to her community.