While presenting at the third annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities Climate Change Conference in New Orleans, his interest was piqued. He said learning about how lower income victims of Hurricane Katrina were moving into a stretch of land along the Mississippi River known as a “petrochemical corridor” or “cancer alley” near 150 industrial plants inspired him to spring into action.
“I got to see with my own eyes the conditions that underprivileged people lived in and it inspired me to do something about it,” Crowther said. “I decided to become an environmental lawyer to help bring about change by way of public policy, regulations and case law.”
Environmental justice is the fair treatment of all people with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. It is achieved when everyone has the same access to the same degree of protection from environmental health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
As a result of his national presentations, Crowther was recently selected for the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) Youth Perspective on Climate Justice Work Group. The group is comprised of 15 emerging youth leaders from across our nation, selected to help develop strategies and find opportunities to combat climate change and empower other young people to do the same.
“This work group will serve as a learning experience that could be used to help those in my community,” Crowther explained.
Based on comments from Mustafa Ali, a founding member of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, Crowther and others in the work group will be a beacon of hope for communities around the world.
“If we are willing to create a space for their voices, advice and recommendations, their innovation, energy and ideas can position our country to be leaders in the emerging climate economy,” Ali said.
In the two years since he switched majors, Crowther said he’s been hard to work lending a hand to organizations such as Kids Inc., March 7 Times Health and Social Services, and the FAMU Community Agencies Partnership to Prevent Substance Abuse, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis (CAPPSAHH).
“Last year, I helped CAPPSAHH survey 600 students to see what our students’ health looked like with plans to introduce programs that will address the needs of the students and direct them to existing services,” he said.
Crowther has made many friends along the way, including Emberly Gammons, a grant coordinator in FAMU’s Psychology Department. Gammons expressed excitement when learning of Crowther’s new undertaking and feels he is the perfect person for the job. She said he was her most consistent volunteer and was always up for a challenge.
“I am extremely proud of Devin on this accomplishment,” Gammons said. “I know he’ll continue to excel and put his best foot forward like he did for the CAPPSAHH grant project.”
In late August, Crowther will attend the International Environmental Youth Symposium in Atlanta, Ga., to present research on ways microorganisms are affected by changes in the environment.