Earlier this month, ten Hoosiers were recognized for their commitment to making Indiana more resilient to threats of environmental change by being named Hoosier Resilience Heroes through the Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana University. This prestigious list includes directors of major environmental organizations, a professor, a city forester and a host of other movers and shakers in the world of Indiana environmentalism. It also includes Brebeuf Jesuit senior Reed Rouch. Reed was one of only two high school students named to this impressive list, but for Reed, being a Hoosier Resilience Hero is more than just a title. It’s a lifelong calling.

For years, Reed has dedicated his life and time outside the classroom to volunteer and educate those younger than him on the importance of environmental issues. He works as an intern with Earth Charter Indiana – an organization that empowers youth through education and local policy action. He serves on the Resilient Pike Committee – a community organization striving to make Pike Township more sustainable. And he lives his daily life determined to leave the Earth in a better state than he found it.

We are so proud of the work Reed is doing to save the planet, and we want to congratulate him on being honored as a Hoosier Resilience Hero. Read below to hear about Reed’s continued efforts for climate change and where he hopes to go from here.

You were recently named an IU Hoosier Resilience Hero by the IU Environmental Resilience Institute. Tell us what earned you this high level of recognition and how that felt as one of only two high school students to be named on the list?

I believe that I earned this recognition from my work with educating youth in Indiana and through my work with environmental policy initiatives throughout the city. I have traveled to schools and conferences in Indianapolis and Indiana in order to educate youth on environmental issues and empower them to take action. I have also acted as a counselor at Earth Charter Indiana’s climate camp where we spend a week empowering youth to take action for environmental justice. I also acted as a member of the steering committee for Thrive Indianapolis, which is a plan dedicated to creating a more sustainable Indianapolis. I am also engaged in community activism through being a member of the Resilient Pike Committee, which works with the community of Pike Township to make the township more sustainable.

It was an honor to be one of two high schoolers on the list. I am incredibly happy that youth are being represented on this list, and as this program develops, I hope that more and more youth are included.

You are an intern with Earth Charter Indiana. Describe the work you do through that internship.

Through this internship, I have the opportunity to act as both an educator and a representative for youth. Earth Charter Indiana works to empower youth through education about climate change and through local policy action. Earth Charter Indiana has been instrumental in the city taking action against climate change, and I have been fortunate in being able to take part in that effort.

How has this internship and your other various volunteering impacted your views of the world?

This internship has actually made me feel more confident about our future. I have met people through this work who have dedicated their lives to ensuring a sustainable future for the world. These people constantly inspire and humble me. While through this internship I have discovered that there is a lot of threats to our world, I feel that if we continue to empower these people and allow them to change the world we will thrive.

Why is climate change such an important topic to you?

I believe that climate change is important because it is probably the biggest challenge humanity has faced to this point. Climate change has the potential to change the world as we know it for the worst, and I believe that if we don’t act it could even lead to our extinction. As we get older there will be no one who is not affected by climate change in some capacity, and I believe that it is our responsibility to take action in order to ensure a better future for humanity.

Is this a field you hope to pursue in the future?

Yes! I am looking forward to studying environmental policy and possibly sustainable business at Indiana University next year.