Volunteer Spotlight – Anna Villavicencio
By: Alex Lei
Anna Villavicencio is a CCL youth volunteer from the town of Three Rivers, CA, a small town right next to the entrance to Sequoia National Park.
But Anna wanted to take her activism to the next level. She began by founding a club, with several friends, dedicated to environmental issues. In between school, sports, and everyday life, she made room for local activist efforts. The group, Ecopact, began by picking up trash around the town. At school, they worked with the principal to replace plastic straws that the school offered with food with compostable ones. They also work with national park organizations to connect with other gateway schools, schools located near national parks, for climate activism.
After joining CCL, Anna got involved in various efforts right away. After attending CCL’s lobby training, she joined her local team and lobbied Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) multiple times. The first time she lobbied Rep. McCarthy’s office, she and her team discussed carbon pricing and current climate legislation under consideration in the House of Representatives. She noticed that the staffer seemed “engaged but not interested”. But the second time, she observed a significant shift. This time, McCarthy’s staff was notably more engaged by the ideas the lobby team presented. Reflecting back on the experience, she recounted that McCarthy’s office had brought one of their experts on climate change to talk about climate legislation and discuss McCarthy differential support of some bills over others.
Anna would also take part in CCL’s Endorsement Challenge, where teams of youth volunteers from all across the country tried to get as many endorsements for CCL’s signature bill, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, within 100 days. She also organized the creation of a video asking for an endorsement from REI, the large outdoor equipment company. (You can read more about this REI video here.)
Her desire to preserve the natural beauty of the world and her firsthand experience with environmental degradation motivates her to continue this work. “I live in a small town but we are very privileged to live close to natural beauty,” she said. However, the natural beauty she’s immersed in, and has grown to love so much, has suffered from environmental degradation. Air pollution blows in from coastal cities and gets trapped in the Central Valley region by the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Recently, the KNP Complex Fire forced local governments to evacuate nearby towns, including Three Rivers.
However, these events have only contributed to her resolve as a climate activist. She continues to work with CCL and while climate activism can certainly be an exercise in patience, Anna described it as rewarding, as she can see she is making bigger changes for an environmental cause.
For other young climate activists, she suggests that they “find something or think of an idea that aligns with your interests” when it comes to climate action since it “will take some time to find yourself in your work”. From there, she suggests “Do what you can, you’ll get better at what you do. You’ll make a difference.”
Alex Lei is a CCL volunteer based in the Silicon Valley area. He has worked with several groups within CCL, including the Silicon Valley North (SVN) chapter and its Letter Writing Team, CCL’s Conservative Caucus and Young Conservative Caucus, and the Youth Blog Writing Team. He is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, where he majored in biology and minored in professional writing.