Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez is only 14 years old, but he's committed to changing the world.
The Colorado teen is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a nonprofit that encourages young people to connect and become involved in environmental activism.
Through a variety of demonstrations and projects -- including an eco hip-hop duo that he created with his younger brother -- Xiuhtezcatl works to engage other youth leaders and share important environmental issues. The brothers have produced songs like “What the Frack?” and “Speak for the Trees” to deliver these messages in a way that is fun and accessible for other young adults.
There are Earth Guardian teams in 25 different countries around the world, each working on projects specific to their own region but focused on the planet as a whole. On Sunday, the Earth Guardians crew in Togo, West Africa, organized a tree planting and community celebration in anticipation of Earth Day. Last summer, the Australian group held a Youth Environmental Awareness Day. The New York crew holds a weekly youth open mic night at a farmer’s market. All of these projects seek to join young people together to make the Earth sustainable.
“As young people we have the advantage that the world will listen to us more so than adults,” Xiuhtezcatl says. “Because we’re vulnerable and we’re innocent.”
His work has led him to speak in front of world leaders at United Nations forums, and earned him the 2013 “Youth Change Maker of the Year” award from President Obama. This summer he'll travel National Geographic on an Arctic expedition to study glacial recision.
“The biggest challenge we face is shifting human consciousness, not saving the planet,” Roske-Martinez says. “Because the planet doesn't need saving; we do.”
Watch the video above, to learn more about Earth Guardians.