Champions of Change
Na’Taki Osborne Jelks is a nationally-recognized leader in engaging urban communities and youth of color in environmental stewardship through hands-on watershed and land restoration initiatives, environmental education, and training. In 2001, Na’Taki co-founded the Atlanta Earth Tomorrow® Program, National Wildlife Federation’s multi-cultural, youth environmental education and leadership development program that engages urban youth in investigating causes of environmental challenges, helps them connect to nature, fosters their leadership of youth-led community action projects, promotes civic engagement, and nurtures leadership skills for building personal environmental stewardship. As an unprecedented model for empowering inner-city teens to improve their communities, youth from neighborhoods highly impacted by pollution and economic disparities develop and implement bold, innovative solutions that advance urban sustainability. The Atlanta Earth Tomorrow® Program has directly reached over 2,500 youth and was recently selected as a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) member organization. Graduates have gone on to gain internships and permanent employment in the fields of environmental science and engineering, forestry, public health, environmental geography, and natural resource management. In addition to her work with the National Wildlife Federation, Na’Taki is Board Chairperson of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA), a community-based organization that recently launched the Atlanta Children’s Forest Network (ACFN) in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to engage Atlanta youth and families in environmental education, service learning, and outdoor physical activity on over 355 acres of publicly owned, forested greenspace in Southwest Atlanta. Na'Taki is an alumna of Spelman College and Emory University and is currently a doctoral candidate at the Georgia State University School of Public Health.