Laura Plascencia is Educating Central Valley Residents About Climate Change and How They Can Fight Back
September 26, 2023

As the work to mitigate the impacts of climate change continues, people like Stanislaus State alumna Laura Plascencia have emerged as beacons of hope, demonstrating the power of grassroots advocacy. Plascencia, who graduated from Stan State in 2022 with a bachelor's degree, transitioned from her biology major to pivotal role at the Valley Improvement Project. She illustrates the transformative potential of community-driven initiatives by members of the Stan State community. 

At the Valley Improvement Project, Plascencia serves as a community organizer, leading efforts to raise awareness about environmental issues and providing climate education to the community. Her role involves bringing people together, building conversations about environmental concerns and empowering the community to voice their worries effectively. 

Originally drawn to wildlife biology due to her love for nature, Plascencia’s academic journey evolved as she learned more about the complexities of environmental issues. She recognized the urgent need to address climate change, air quality challenges and equitable water access as vital components of preserving our environment for future generations.  

“I knew climate change was an imminent threat and we would have to learn how to fight back,” Plascencia said. “I wanted to contribute and educate my community on what they can do to fight back. Every person has been affected by the impacts of climate change, and it has become evident the issue needs advocates who can act.” 

Plascencia found dedication through her work with Valley Improvement Project. She is deeply committed to working with younger generations in the battle against climate change. She highlights the growing interest among all generations in protecting the environment.  

Valley Improvement Project recently organized a youth climate justice summit, an event that received an overwhelmingly positive response from students.  

A total of 65 students attended the youth climate justice summit. The attendees included students ranging from elementary school through college. 

“I feel like change can happen where people are being impacted,” said Laura. “The public has been given a platform to speak their minds and identify systemic flaws that have allowed climate change to worsen. We need to hold these governments and companies to a higher standard.” 

- Laura Plascencia, Stan State Alumna 

“They were definitely very interested in the topics and wanted to learn more,” Plascencia said. “I feel more optimistic about our planet’s future as I see more people coming together to combat the effects of climate change. I loved seeing the enthusiasm and engagement from the students during the youth climate justice summit. It was truly heartening.” 

Plascencia believes that social media platforms play a pivotal role in amplifying awareness about local environmental issues.  She is optimistic about the advent of such movements as "cancel culture" and others that seek to hold companies accountable, and she envisions younger generations carrying this mantle to encourage environmental and ethical practices, ultimately fostering a culture of sustainability.  

“I feel like change can happen where people are being impacted,” Plascencia said. “The public has been given a platform to speak their minds and identify systemic flaws that have allowed climate change to worsen. We need to hold these governments and companies to a higher standard.” 

Plascencia’s experiences as a student at Stanislaus State significantly influenced her path into her current role with Valley Improvement Project. Her involvement with AmeriCorps, a national program that provides volunteers for community projects. Her time at the University underscored the importance of building community connections to address challenges effectively. She learned firsthand that community engagement is a potent tool for driving meaningful change.  

“The importance of community and its impact on our environment cannot be overstated,” she said. “When we consider the geographical location of the Central Valley, it becomes evident the area is particularly vulnerable to environmental challenges. The unique landscape of the Valley means air quality concerns are not just theoretical, but it is a reality that affects the lives of residents of our community.” 

Stanislaus State’s location in the Central Valley further solidified Plascencia’s resolve to engage in local environmental advocacy. 

Her commitment to empowering communities, particularly youth, and her optimistic outlook for the future, serve as an inspiration for those striving for positive environmental change. Plascencia stands as a shining example of the kind of impact one person can make in the fight to safeguard our planet for generations to come. 

“Every small action, every individual effort, contributes to a larger movement for positive environmental change,” she said. “Together, we hold the power to shape a future that prioritizes the health of our planet and our communities. Let’s embrace this collective responsibility with hope, determination and a shared vision for a more sustainable world.”