By Melanie Friedel, American Forests

There’s no such thing as “too smart,” and when it comes to the environment and climate change, knowledge is endless, as are the opportunities to contribute! So even if you’re no Rachel Carson, it’s worth it to read up on what’s going on around you and speak up about it. Check out this simple guide to start your journey as an activist in the world of environmental action, protection and policy.

1. Know Your Stuff

Credit: Peter Clark

Start by asking questions. Then find the answers! There are always going to be opinions online, but before forming you own, it’s important to get the facts down. The library is a good option, but climate change is a very fast-paced issue, and some books might not be up to date. It might be a better idea to start online, but be careful where you look. Find a reliable website: something educational with credible authors and as much scientific content as you can absorb!

TIP: Explore forest facts and updates on the American Forests website! Read our blog, Loose Leaf, and articles from American Forests magazine and media releases. Our Science Advisory Board and Communications and Policy teams are paying close attention to everything new in the world of climate change to keep you in the loop. Looking for more options? The Society of Environmental Journalists keeps a running tracker of all the environmental headlines happening, world-wide.

2. Share That Stuff

Credit: Stefan Tell

Once you feel that you have a firm grasp on what’s going on, start spreading the word. Talk to your friends, family, teachers, students, colleagues and anyone else about what you’ve learned and why you think it’s important. And hey, see what they have to say too — there’s always room for more knowledge.

Social media is a great way to reach a lot of people and connect with others who share your goals. Whether it’s posting a photo on Instagram showing off the beauty of a scenic hiking route you’re walking, tweeting your thoughts on the latest policy move, or sharing a Facebook event for the People’s Climate March, make your voice heard!

Many people know about the larger picture climate change happening world-wide, but if you find out about things impacting your local environment, be sure to share it — you’ll be surprised how many people will show up to defend their homes.

3. Get Involved

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March! Volunteer! Join a club! Explore what’s going on in your community. If you’re a student, campuses are often loaded with activist clubs and are an easy way to meet people with your interests who will tell you about events and actions to take. But no matter where you are, you can get involved with a group that wants what you want: a healthy planet. There are endless opportunities to attend a march or be a guest or volunteer at an activist event — take advantage of these! All it takes is a Google search (such as “environmental groups near me”) and you’ll be on your way.

4. Contact Your Elected Officials

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You might think, “I’m just one person,” or “why would they listen to me?” Well, here’s why: your voice matters! Important policy is being made right now, and you can make a difference in whether that policy gets accepted or rejected. Believe it or not, there are thousands of others just like you calling your senators and representatives, and there is power in numbers. Your Congressmen are there to represent you, and how can they do that if they don’t know what you want? Here is a handy tool to find your local Congressman.

5. Support American Forests

Credit: Chuck Fazio, Artist in Residence

We are committed to protecting and restoring the environment 365 days a year, and have existed since 1875. We listen to our members and fight for the environment on their behalf: by joining our organization, you have a say in the future of the world around you. Let’s work together to save forests and the global environment that depends on them. Check out these ways to get involved with our work:

Every tree counts, as does every voice. Make yours heard today.