Youth Changemaker: Jeffrey Graham

"Jeffrey is a compassionate and relentless voice for sustainability in California. His ability to connect youth and the sustainability movement with top policymakers is unmatched, as is his drive to initiate and understanding of issues from nontraditional angles."

- The Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council

At the beginning of his junior year of high school, Jeffrey started Los Osos High School’s first sustainability club called Grizzly Green Team. As a classroom alternative, the club provides community service projects, educates students about the Earth’s resources and conservation and shares information about job opportunities in the sustainability field.

As President, Jeffrey prepared educational and interactive lessons that he shared with club members, and led the club in sustainability and clean-up service projects in the Rancho Cucamonga, California, community.

Jeffrey also introduced his high school to Metropolitan Water District’s Solar Cup, a competition in which high schools from throughout Southern California construct, outfit and race solar-powered boats. In the first year, Jeffrey led the team to a first-place finish in the rookie endurance race.

Jeffrey also applied for and won a $5,000 grant to install a garden at his high school. Completed in May 2012, the garden currently serves as a learning center for water-wise gardening for the school and community.

Green Team America

In May 2012, Jeffrey also started the California chapter of Green Team America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to uniting student environmental and service clubs in a major effort to green their communities.

Jeffrey established the chapter almost entirely himself, constructing an adult advisory board (consisting of city planners, environmental educators and a TV personality), attaining over $4,000 in funding and speaking at various events throughout San Bernardino County to recruit schools. He also established valuable partnerships with the Frontier Project, a sustainable resource facility in Rancho Cucamonga, as well as with healthy city initiatives (such as Rancho Cucamonga’s Healthy RC program) to collaborate on community projects.

By doing this, Jeffrey’s work with Green Team America has helped bridge the communication gap between high school students and adults by having them work together on the same issues.

Green Team America is the first student-run, student-powered environmental organization in the Inland Empire. Student members are fully responsible for fundraising, planning and executing the projects. Students are taught specialized skills not normally attained in an entry-level workplace environment.  This gives the participating students an advantage when applying for jobs, particularly in the sustainability field.

Green Team America’s projects aim to impact the way that people think about environmentalism, not nag them with negative facts. By informing individuals and communities alike about positive and simple changes they can make today, Jeffrey and Green Team America hope to encourage teens to take on more sustainable lifestyles and inspire adults to equally embrace a sustainable future.

Watch more about Green Team America here:

What's Next

In honor of his achievements, Jeffrey received the 2012 Environmental Steward Award, which recognizes individuals for their actions, leadership and continuing commitment to environmental stewardship.

Currently, Jeffrey is a student at University of California Davis where he is majoring in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning. He is a Bible study leader with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and is a volunteer researcher at the UC Davis Energy Institute, where he is learning about different policies and laws affecting the implementation of renewable energy.

Jeffrey believes that when youth are involved with policies that affect them, "they are more likely to discuss them with their peers. A Presidential Youth Council will help to bridge the gap of understanding between generations and will help youth understand how and why policies are made, perhaps allowing them better insight into the process, which could lead to an optimal solution.”

“It’s an honor to be selected as one of the Top 24 Under 24 Young Changemakers. I’m excited about the opportunity to share what I am learning about the renewable energy field. I take my role as a Changemaker seriously and look forward to inspiring others to join me in improving this world we all share,” he says.


This profile is one of the Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemakers, a series hosted by SparkAction and the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council to recognize young changemakers influencing policy and practice at the local, state and national levels.

The members of the youth-led Campaign chose the 24 youth who are featured in this series, from entries submitted by peers and mentors. Read about the selection process.

We’re always looking for more profiles of young people making a difference, so submit one of your own!

Los Osos High School/Green Team America