The Inquirer (Monrovia)

Liberia: Together for Sustainable Future - Yes Receives American Fellows

Two young Americans are expected in Liberia on the 20th and 21st of May to work alongside Youth Exploring Solutions (YES), a passionate, nonprofit, and accredited voluntary grassroots youth-led development organization for two weeks to help implement a follow-on project of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' Community Solutions Program administered by IREX (International Research & Exchanges Broad).

The follow-on project of YES titled 'Building a Sustainable Liberia' modeled after IDEAS' five pillar of sustainability was selected through a very competitive process in the midst of over 35 projects worldwide to be ranked amongst the top 5 to benefit from the 2014 Partnering for Stronger Communities Grants Program.

The two young American fellows are from IDEAS For Us, an international nonprofit organization and accredited NGO of the United Nations, helping to advance sustainability and environmental awareness through youth-led action.

The acronym IDEAS stands for Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions, an organization that helps nurture the talents of youth leaders to drive environmental solutions and sustainability issues by providing inter-generational platform to foster global partnerships for people of all ages in sustainable learning activities to create positive environmental change.

While in Liberia, the young Americans will help create opportunities for young people to be educated, engaged and empowered to take action on sustainability issues as well as assist in the establishment of an environmentally aware culture in Liberia through research, education, and action utilizing a youth-led sustainability movement.

Together with all stakeholders, the American fellows have planned to create an ecosystem of innovation in the areas of energy, water, food, waste and ecology. They will empower existence environmental clubs in 6 schools across Montserrado County, host inter-generation Energy Access Talks, create volunteer groups of Water Defenders, plant edible gardens, and increase biodiversity through environmental reforestation and restoration efforts in two coastal communities.

In addition, they are expected to meet U.S. Ambassador Deborah R. Malac, United States Ambassador to Liberia, officials of USAID's Food & Enterprise Development, Honorable Eugene Nagbe, Minister of Youth & Sports, some members of the National Legislature, a few hierarchies of Sime Derby Plantation as well as media practitioners and a host of other dignitaries, opinion leaders, university students and fascinating tours of Gbarpolu, Bomi, Marigibi, Bong, Lofa, Grand Cape Mount and Grand Bassa Counties.

It is also hoped that the American fellows will come face-to-face with some of the finest, natural and most beautiful landscape and animals the world has ever known. The tropical rainforests, stunning beaches, amazing creatures, fascinating inland water ways, admiring marshlands with mangroves, charming plateaus and mountains endowed with mineral resources that have enticed many tourists and investors from all walks of life to Liberia.

The two young American fellows are Clayton Louis Ferrara and Christopher Stamper both of whom are from Florida.

Ferrara, 27, is a Chilean-born American naturalist, poet, educator, and popular writer. He serves as Executive Director of IDEAS for Us and a distinguished alumnus of Rollins College. His professional career started in South Florida at the age of 12 when he began teaching ecology, conservation, and youth empowerment to the general public as a docent to numerous museums, aquariums, and interpretative nature centers in the areas. He is the first American to be named a Darwin Scholar by the U.K. based Field Studies Council (FSC) for his accomplishments as a young naturalist on the global stage.

Stampar is a 21 year old graduate of International Relations, Economics, and Geo-Spatial Technology at the University of Miami. He is the International Director of IDEAS For Us and also serves as an Energy Specialist with Citizen Energy, conducting training, energy audits, efficiency analysis, and customer engagement. In 2012, Chris delivered speeches to both the United Nations High Level Meeting on Happiness and Wellbeing in New York and the Rio +20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as the Berlin International Economic Congress in 2013.

It can be recalled that in 2013, Stephen B. Lavalah, Executive Director of YES traveled to the United States of America for a four-month professional leadership development training for the world's brightest and best community leaders, where he served as a Community Solutions Program Fellow and worked alongside the IDEAS movement in Central Florida to develop his follow-on project, Building a Sustainable Liberia.

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