America, the beautiful

On+Jan.+30%2C+Karina+Gonzalez%2C+10%2C+visits+Washington+D.C.+as+a+chosen+youth+commissioner+foe+the+Keep+America+Beautiful+conference.+%E2%80%9CI+can%E2%80%99t+wait+to+share+what+I+learned+from+the+conferences+with+the+Green+Team.%E2%80%9D+Gonzalez+said.+

Photo By: Michael Finnegan

On Jan. 30, Karina Gonzalez, 10, visits Washington D.C. as a chosen youth commissioner foe the Keep America Beautiful conference. “I can’t wait to share what I learned from the conferences with the Green Team.” Gonzalez said.

Vivian Buenrostro, Co-Editor-in-Cheif

From Jan. 28- 31, Karina Gonzales, 10, represented Downey at the Keep America Beautiful (KAB) National Conference in Washington D.C. KAB is a non- profit organization that brings student leaders of all ages together to help take part in environmental projects that give back to their community. Gonzales was fortunate to attend the conference, all expenses paid.

KIWIN’S club adviser Mr. Gaytan and Keep Downey Beautiful adviser Carol Rowland selected Gonzales to submit an application to represent the city of Downey because of great contribution to KIWIN’S club and the summer environmental club Kiwanis.

“Karina has been involved with me in community projects since she was in fourth grade,” Gaytan said. “If anyone deserves to go to this environmental conference it was Karina!”

Out of all the students in Southern California, Gonzales was chosen. Surprised and full of anticipation, Gonzales set off on her cross-country trip with former Downey High School graduate, Brenda Lopez as her chaperone.

“As a former KIWIN’S club member, I’m always more than happy to be a part of environmental community projects,” Lopez said.

With three days to prepare for the meeting with the KAB’s President and CEO, Matt McKenna, and other panel members, Gonzales wasted no time and met with affiliates of the different cities and states. KAB’s newly formed Youth Council is made up of ten teenagers who represent the Youth Advisory Panel. The group of ten serves as the active voices of teens across America. The Youth Council brainstormed ideas for new projects focusing on teens. Their ideas further discussed with the KAB panel. The group also toured the White House and the famous Washington Monument.

“Chaperoning Karina was a great experience,” Lopez said, “I learned so much.”

The big topics discussed at this conference included service learning, connecting kids with nature, environmental literacy, and school curriculum. Collaborations of fresh ideas and topics filled the room.

“I’m very excited to be able to bring back lots of new tips and projects for KIWIN’S and Downey’s summer environmental club, Kiwanis Green Team,” Gonzales said, “Representing Downey was awesome.”

Allowing individuals to take greater responsibility to improve their community’s environment is what KAB is all about. Gonzales was part of a significant conference that will continue to positively give back to Downey’s community.