Protecting the planet

Local student attends summit on environment in nation’s capital

He sat down one-on-one with a United States senator from Indiana to discuss climate change.

Christian Omoruyi, a soon-to-be junior at Center Grove High School, also got a $10 bill signed by an environmental adviser to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, after he asked him a question and referenced an editorial the man, Mustafa Santiago Ali, wrote for ‘The Guardian.’

He and his peers also took part in an activity where they simulated the Paris Agreement.

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Omoruyi recently attended the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment at George Mason University in Washington D.C. Teens who attend are nominated by educators and chosen based on strong academics and a demonstrable interest in the environment.

Conservation and the environment are important to Omoruyi because everything else in the world hinges on the health of the environment, he said.

“All the other elements of society are contingent on the environment,” he said.

Omoruyi spent the week in late June learning from members of Congress and environmental leaders about the importance of preserving the environment and about how people can disagree with each other and still have productive conversations on the issues, he said.

One of the highlights of his trip was asking Ali what society could do about environmental racism.

He then referenced an op-ed piece the adviser wrote for an international newspaper.

Ali was so impressed with Omoruyi’s knowledge that he signed a $10 bill.

“He told me, ‘I can’t wait to see you in 10 years,” he said.

Omoruyi got with peers and reenacted and did a study on the Paris agreement and went to the National Zoo and spoke with conservationists there.

During a trip to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, he heard about the work they do to protect endangered wolves, cranes and other animals.

Part of the trip was getting to know Washington D.C. and the people too, he said.

He stood at the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the Lincoln Memorial and met with people familiar with Washington and learned that while they disagree, most have similar overall goals, he said.

“We have to involve everyone in a facts-based, objective conversation that is cordial to those we may have disagreements with,” he said.

Omoruyi talked to Sen. Todd Young about his views on climate change.

Now that he is back from the trip he wants to open dialogue in the community about the effects of climate change and how climate change is a scientific fact and can reach every facet of life, he said.

“In the spirit of science, climate change is not controversial. It is a reality,” he said.

At a glance

Want to learn more?

Christian Omoruyi started a blog about his trip to Washington D.C.

The blog is at

Author photo
Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.