Madison Whitney is a Nebraska Fellow and Northlight Young Scholar for Our Climate. She goes to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for Environmental Studies and Global Studies and hopes to pursue environmental law and forest policy in the future.
I started as the liaison between the Coalition for Resilient Nebraskans (CORN) and Our Climate in June. CORN is a statewide environmental coalition advocating for equitable and science-based climate policy for all Nebraskans. While environmental coalitions are not a rare concept, I was both interested and a bit apathetic to how the process would go in Nebraska. We pride ourselves in “Nebraska Nice”, but there is a communication and cooperation gap between farmers in rural areas and civilians in the larger cities, between older generations and younger ones, and between Democrats and Republicans. This has created a lack of empathy between different stakeholders in the state and a halt of environmental progress. Having the opportunity to lead CORN allowed me to understand the diversity of perspectives and needs that Nebraskans have when it comes to the climate crisis.
The coalition has taught me about agricultural issues, public power, and grassroots organizing over the past few months. I got the chance to step out of my comfort zone and learn about the importance of local meat markets when it comes to regenerative agriculture, a topic that I knew little to none of as a vegan. While CORN continues to grow and evolve, I have had the chance to work with community leaders that have been prevalent in the state’s climate conversation for several years as well as students who are just beginning their own journey as environmental activists. We are currently pushing for decarbonization goals in our local public power district as well as keeping our eye out for the next statewide climate action plan. I am grateful for all of the experiences I have gained with CORN and am looking forward to the work we will do in the future.