Stories from the Field

Q&A with Board Member and Climate Advocate Todd Cota

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todd cota outside with camera at the grand canyon overlook

NatureBridge Board Member Todd Cota can often be seen picking up trash on the streets of Seattle. He walks wherever and whenever he can. And next month, he’ll be sharing his insight and actionable steps for the fight against climate change in the Pacific Northwest and globally at Patagonia’s downtown Seattle storefront.

Trained as a Climate Reality Leader in Los Angeles in 2018, Todd will give a presentation on his journey from a young activist witnessing environmental impacts around the world, to a champion for the fight against climate change. We sat down with Todd to chat ahead of his climate talk and Q&A at Patagonia:

What is your connection to nature like?

Growing up in Wisconsin, I spent a lot of time outside. In addition to roaming outdoors as a kid I was a member of the Boy Scouts, eventually becoming an Eagle Scout. I embarked on numerous camping trips in northern Wisconsin and served as a camp counselor at YMCA during my college years at the University of Wisconsin. 

Tell us about your journey as a climate change advocate.

As the years went on and I had the opportunity to travel, I began to witness just how drastically our planet has transformed. Travel allows you to recognize more clearly the impact that we as humans have had and continue to have on the environment. 

I have a firm belief that if we expose kids to the outdoors, they’ll gain a greater appreciation for the natural world that will encourage them to be more sustainable and more willing to protect the planet, which is why I joined the Olympic board at NatureBridge. I wanted to leverage my position as a board member and create a larger impact. 

What drives you to do this work?

A love for the outdoors. We’re all in this together and while there can sometimes feel like a lack of urgency and options to make impactful change, we have to gather momentum to get through the inertia that’s built up over time.

Why do you believe that connecting kids to the outdoors is so important in this fight against climate change?

I feel it’s really important, because not all kids have access to the outdoors. Secondly, if we don’t expose kids to the outdoors then they won’t have an appreciation for what they are about to lose if we don’t change this around. We are getting to a point where there are certain areas of the planet that will never be the same. 

This generation will be in areas of leadership in the future and because of that, I do feel hopeful. I feel hopeful in seeing young people like Greta Thunberg and the wave of support that these types of movements have.  

How do your roles as NatureBridge board member and as a Climate Reality Leader impact or lend to your work?

NatureBridge and The Climate Reality Project are purpose-driven organizations that do very engaging work. I am always looking for work to be engaging and ensure my team does the same. If you have a purpose, feel part of the mission, and are doing work that excites you, you are typically happier at what you do. Happy people stay longer, do great work, and, heck, are more fun to work with.

What do you hope are the biggest takeaways for kids attending NatureBridge?

  1. It’s not all bad and there is still hope.
  2. Regardless of what people say, you can make an impact. We got into this mess one plastic water bottle at a time, we’re going to get out of it one plastic water bottle at a time.
  3. Continue the conversation and continue to use your voice, because people around you are impacted by what you do and what you say.

Join us February 4 at Patagonia’s Downtown Seattle storefront to hear more from Todd Cota at our Climate Reality Talk

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