“Don’t be intimidated by what you think you can’t do. Do what you can. Learn about the issue. It’s important to focus on making better choices and decisions, not on finding the ‘right’ solution or answer.” — Kallan Benson
Having grown up fishing and sailing all around Maryland’s Severn River, 17-year old Kallan Benson developed a passion for nature from a young age. Eager to learn how she could help fend off climate change, Benson attended the Maryland Environmental Legislative Summit in 2018 and discovered the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s student leadership program. She has worked with the program since then, meeting with scientists and elected officials to discuss how to improve the Bay’s health.
Aiming to work on a global scale, Benson then devoted 2019 to taking climate action with Fridays For Future (FFF), an international movement started by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg that conducts school strikes in demand of climate justice. Benson soon became the national coordinator for FFF USA and co-organizer for FFF International’s outreach group. Her work in building up this organization has led to 140 communities across the nation taking weekly strikes.
Benson also started Parachutes for the Planet, a campaign aimed to raise awareness about our climate crisis and let participants express their concerns about the future through community art. This inspired activity from over 70 countries and bloomed into a collaborative international initiative.
On a political level, Benson’s activism also helped pass bills, such as the Clean Energy Jobs Act that put a state-wide fracking ban on Maryland, restricting fossil fuel dependence in Maryland and the District of Columbia. For all of her work, Benson was awarded the United Nations Environment Programme’s Champions of the Earth Award along with Thunberg. However, Benson returned the award, declining the honor and instead offering it for the astonished world leaders before her to earn.
Today, she continues to lead as an ardent climate activist, encouraging youths to educate themselves and take action to give our planet a brighter future.