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Rising Leaders: Pace Girls Take on Climate Research 

At Pace Center for Girls in Pasco County, a group of passionate girls are learning about the environment and what they can do to benefit the next generation. We had the pleasure of speaking with two Pace girls, Hannah and Rileigh, along with their science teacher, Wendy Vazquez-Ernest.  

Hannah, a 17-year-old in the 10th grade, has been at Pace for two years and aspires to become an architect after graduation. Her commitment to environmental challenges is matched by Rileigh, a 9th grader who has been at Pace for three months and wants to study forensic science in the future. Despite their different tenures at Pace, both girls are united by a common goal: making a difference in their community.  

A Project with Purpose 

Under the guidance of Wendy Vazquez-Ernest, the girls and their classmates participated in an environmental science and global warming project that required them to create detailed poster boards. These posters highlighted the issues of climate change and pollution across various countries, as well as potential solutions and actions that can be taken to mitigate these problems. 

Hannah focused on Italy, exploring the unique environmental challenges the country faces and proposing actionable solutions. Rileigh delved into issues in Madagascar like deforestation. Their personal insights and dedication were evident as they discussed their findings and proposed solutions. 

The Importance of Lifting Teen Voices 

The project is more than just an academic exercise; it’s a powerful example of how teens can advocate for causes important to them. Wendy emphasized the significance of teen advocacy, stating, “It’s crucial for young people to understand their power in enacting change. When they are informed and passionate, they can inspire others to take action.” 

Making a Change in Their Community 

Hannah and Rileigh are not just learning about environmentalism—they are taking action to make a difference in their community. Hannah shared her experiences of seeing animals pushed out of their natural ecosystems due to Florida’s population growing. Both girls committed to recycling, picking up trash and said schools should start more clubs to create awareness for the environment.  

“Seeing girls like Hannah and Rileigh engage with science and advocacy is incredibly rewarding,” Vazquez-Ernest shared. “It’s essential to celebrate their achievements and inspire more young women to pursue a passion in science.” 

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