Madeline Ruddell, 16, says she has long lived with the effects of climate change as a resident of Sonoma County, where wildfires have ripped across the landscape in recent years.
Ruddell, communications lead for the Sonoma County hub of the Sunrise Movement, a national youth-led climate activist group, can't remember a fall where she didn't prep an evacuation bag, or take time off of school because of a big fire.
"I was eager for action because I'm watching fires consume my town and consume my county," she said. "These fires ... motivate me to work harder."
She is one of seven young activists marching 266 miles over 2 1/2 weeks in an effort to pressure California lawmakers to support the Civilian Climate Corps as part of a Green New Deal. She hopes work done by the corps could help reduce fire risk in California.
"I want ambitious progressive climate legislation passed by the end of summer 2021,” she said. “We only have one planet and my generation is gonna have to live on it for the rest of our lives.”