Blog Post

Every day, I’m humbled and proud to see the good work that PIRG chapter students do around the country. It’s inspiring that close to 50 years after college students came together to form the first PIRGs, they’re still leading the next generation of social changemakers, advocating for a brighter vision for the future of our country and our planet.

That’s why I want to introduce you to Alex Gordon, a PIRG chapter student and one of the winners of this year’s Brower Youth Awards!

The Brower Youth Awards recognize young leaders who have the strength to mobilize environmental activist movements. Along with Alex, five other young leaders were recognized for their work to lead environmental campaigns and build the power of youth activism.

During her second week at Eckerd College, Alex began working with the Florida PIRG chapter to help register young people to vote. Her efforts helped increase voter turnout by 350 percent at her local precinct during the 2018 elections.

Alex (third from left) looks on as then-Eckerd College President Donald Eastman signed the Break Free From Plastics Pledge in 2019

Encouraged by this success, Alex decided to use her new organizing skills to address Eckerd’s plastic pollution problem. She ran the Eckerd chapter’s Break Free From Plastics campaign, setting a goal for her school to sign the “Break Free From Plastic Pledge” and eliminate all nonessential single-use plastics on campus. After months of campaigning and hard work on the part of students, Eckerd College became the first campus in the nation to implement the pledge.

Alex is now working to share her success with other PIRG chapter students following in her footsteps, as they work to win adoption of their own version of the pledge on campuses across the country. You can learn more about Alex and her story in this inspiring video produced by the Brower Youth Awards:

Movements don’t succeed unless they make a point of always bringing in more people just like Alex. That’s why we work so hard to recruit and train as many students as possible every year. Around the country, the Student PIRGs have already trained 1,100 volunteers this year, who are working to win more commitments to renewable energy, end hunger and homelessness, make college more affordable, increase youth civic engagement, and more.

And with this year’s launch of PIRG Campus Action clubs on more campuses, the Student PIRGs are gearing up to give thousands more students the skills and the opportunity to make a difference on the issues they care about. Eckerd College, where Alex attends school, was one of the pilot tests of this new organizing strategy. 

Currently on more than 60 campuses in 23 states and in Washington, D.C., from Howard to Yale and Brown Universities; from Florida A&M University and the University of Florida to the Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin-Madison; and many campuses in between, we’re helping students stay organized, mobilized and energized. 

I’m excited to see what the next Alex will accomplish.

Dan Xie
Political Director, Student PIRGs