Growing up in rural South Carolina, I had the opportunity to spend much of my free time roaming around the countryside. I was surrounded by nature throughout my life, from pastures and cotton fields to camping in the woods. But my favorite place to go was, and still is, under the canopy of the age-old trees by the creek to rest by the water on the flat rocks. It’s near where the late U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond spent his Fourth of July eating cooter stew and fried chicken. And it’s where I learned to value what God has blessed us with.

When I was younger, I never thought of climate change as a real problem. They talked about it on the news and they showed the now-famous hockey stick graph, but I didn’t think it posed any real problems to me. That changed with my education at the University of South Carolina. Throughout college, I dug deeper into the science behind climate change. Professors showed me the science behind renewable energy sources and value of our state’s natural resources. We have a beautiful state, and I don’t want that to change.

After learning the process of lawmaking as a Page at the South Carolina State House, I realized that I wanted to have a more active influence on environmental policy. I interned at Fort Jackson on solar energy implementation on the base and just completed my second year of a Government Relations internship with Conservation Voters of South Carolina.

I wasn’t always a Conservation Voter, but I am now. I see the value in the environment, and I know that we can make a difference together to protect the South Carolina we love.