A self-described home-grown Indiana-based environmentalist, Jim Poyser’s concern about climate change and its impact on our world reached a point where he wanted to devote all of his time to increasing awareness of this global matter and affecting change for future generations. So he left his two-decade career in journalism and was subsequently selected in 2013 to serve as the first-ever executive director of Earth Charter Indiana (ECI).
In his role, Jim inspires and advances sustainable, just and peaceful living in Indiana, primarily by educating young people on climate leadership and civic engagement. Through presentations, classes, camps and plays focused on our evolving climate and actions that can be taken to positively change our environment, this new guard of civic leaders is well-versed in topics such as green infrastructure, waste minimization, air and water pollution, green energy and recycling. In turn, they share their knowledge with government officials in hopes of getting cities throughout the state to adopt climate resolutions and/or resiliency plans. An emotional and inspiring example of his work with youth was captured in the recent mini-documentary Little Warriors, which won the 2017 Indiana Spotlight award at the Heartland Film Festival.
Jim’s ability to relate to people and motivate them by tapping into personal concerns has catapulted his work forward in a state that has struggled to care for the environmental health of our communities. In the past year, three youth-led climate resolutions have passed in Central Indiana and, based on this success, ECI has set a goal of getting 20 cities in the state to adopt climate resolutions or create resiliency plans by 2020.
Due to his tenacity, Jim’s climate change message is reaching thousands around the country. His more than 30 plays have been performed throughout Indiana, as well as Chicago and New York City. He has been trained by the Climate Reality Project and has presented to more than 10,000 people, via live presentations, radio interviews and a TEDx talk. His climate change game show “The Ain’t Too Late Show” advances his mission of bringing humor to a heavy subject like climate change.
Jim admits that he is still learning and experimenting in his quest for everyone to come together and tackle the challenges of climate change. As he has done, he encourages individuals to become involved by picking a subject area to become knowledgeable about and share with others, or take individual actions such as riding a bike, reducing meat consumption or conserving energy at home.
In addition to his accomplishments, Jim’s creativity, unique perspective to his work and infectious personality have enabled Earth Charter Indiana to expand its community reach with limited resources and partner with diverse groups not typically engaged with environmental work. Jim is fundamentally changing what environmental leadership means in Indiana.