Hi, this is Rachael Hood. You might recognize me from last year’s STOP fellows! This year, due to the success of the program, we were able to expand and hire a coordinator to help run the program (that’s me). I grew up in Virginia and first got involved organizing against the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. From there I went to Oberlin College where I majored in Environmental Studies and organized against fracking and pipelines in northeast Ohio. I then entered graduate school at the University of West Virginia, where I founded the Plastic-Free Task force. I got to collaborate with other WVU students, and now advise them on the growth of that program. I am so excited to mentor students on organizing skills and continue to develop regional collaboration throughout Appalachia. I draw inspiration from all the communities fighting against destruction and the beauty and joy in resistance. I’m passionate about building trusting and transformational relationships through organizing work, as well as rooting environmental organizing in opposition to capitalism, colonialism, racism, imperialism, and patriarchy.
You might remember that last year, STOP fellows accomplished a wide variety of goals and worked together to start the Youth for Appalachian Climate Justice coalition, resulting in a conference that brought over 50 organizers together in the region. We are excited to see what the students will accomplish this year and how these young organizers will continue to build a regional youth voice against this toxic industry. I’ll be continuing my work with Youth for Appalachian Climate Justice in addition to coordinating the STOP fellowship.
I’m thrilled to have the honor of welcoming & introducing our second cohort of fellows for the Students Taking on Oil and Petrochemicals (STOP) program. We are working with five students at schools throughout the Ohio River Valley as they campaign to eliminate plastics on their campuses and organize against the proposed petrochemical buildout in the region. Students meet weekly to learn organizing skills, delve deeper into the plastic pollution cycle, and develop a comprehensive understanding of anti-oppressive environmental organizing in the region. We’ve got a kickass group of students this year and I’m humbled to be able to help them change narratives and actions on their campuses. You can read more about each of our students below:
Danielle (she/her, ‘22) is at West Virginia University running their Break Free From Plastics (BFFP) Task Force and works with the Student Sierra Coalition to generate student support for zero-waste solutions. Natalie (she/they, ‘24) at Washington and Jefferson is raising awareness about the connections between plastic pollution and extraction in southwest Pennsylvania and is starting a club on campus to tackle these issues. Ian (he/him, ‘23) successfully rolled out the reusable container program at Bethany College last year and is continuing the work to maintain and expand that program. Delaney (she/her, ‘24) is organizing a waste audit and river cleanup focused on microplastics and plastic pollution at the University of Cincinnati. And Amanda (she/her, ‘23) is working at the University of Pittsburgh to bring a Break Free From Plastics campaign to the student body and administration.