Susan Silber: Raising the Voices of Youth

By Jamila Banks

In partnership with the Fox Family, our Youth Leadership Hub provides micro grants to projects which nurture the compassionate, visionary leadership of our nation’s youth. Our leadership team for this hub is comprised of extraordinary grantees of The Pollination Project, who will seek out and mentor projects to fund through this program.

We asked the team to interview each other so that we all got a chance to know them better. Here Jamila Banks interviews Susan Silber.

Susan Silber

Growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and Orange County, environmental educator Susan Silber was inspired to love nature early on. From hiking and with her parents as a child, to taking local Hmong children canoeing on California’s San Joaquin River, to introducing urban youth to hiking in Bay Area parks, Susan has spent more than 25 years witnessing nature’s powerful impact on young people.

Shortly after graduating with a B.A. in History from U.C. Santa Cruz, Susan intertwined her passions of education and the environment working as a naturalist and program coordinator, including serving two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica. Susan received her Teaching Credential and Masters in Education through a Peace Corps Fellowship at San Francisco State, and continues her work at several Bay Area environmental education organizations. She also founded a bicycle education project in San Francisco, a climate education program with Acterra and worked with the Green Schools Initiative to create a waste reduction project with Berkeley Unified School District.

Susan recently created the Nature’s Voices Project, receiving Pollination Project grant in 2014. This project focuses on empowering youth to tell their stories about their inspirational environmental projects.

“I have worked with thousands of children and youth over the years. I’ve backpacked in the snow and gone mountain biking with urban youth in the wilderness, have cried while listened to youth speak passionately about the need for climate change action; and been wowed by children who are challenged to learn inside of four walls yet thrive while learning in an outdoor classroom. I saw how these programs save lives, how they truly represent education at their best. Yet the environmental education and Green Schools movements consistently struggle for funding and support. How can we best articulate the diversity of benefits that our programs bring – to youth, to communities, to the planet? Stories. Stories. Stories. There is research, there are adults telling adults how crucial these experiences are… and then there are the inspirational stories of the youth themselves. Stories of how their lives have been transformed by environmental education programs. I invite you to read, to collect and share stories, to support youth voices and the programs they have been transformed by; and to listen actively to the generation who will be the most affected by climate change.”

Susan also founded the NorCal Community Resilience Network, a new initiative which also received funding from the Pollination Project. The Network focuses on building capacity and broadening support for grassroots groups working on people-powered, community-based and nature-inspired solutions to climate change, social inequity and peak oil.

Susan currently lives with her husband and daughter in Berkeley, CA. She loves nature, bicycling, gardening, music, outdoor adventures, traveling and hanging out with her wonderful community of amazing family and friends.


About The Author

Jamila Banks
Jamila Banks is a Motivator, Mentor, and Entrepreneur with a diverse background in arenas such as social services, mental health, environmental advocacy, and education. She is Founder and Executive Director of Foster & Banks Walk in Faith Foundation, an environmentally friendly, social services 501(c)(3) organization located in Los Angeles, CA. She as also a key member of The Pollination Project team serving as our Marketing Assistant, and Leads the Youth Grantmaking Team.