Charles Orgbon III found his passion about environmental issues at an early age and turned it into a thriving organization that’s making a difference in the world.
Mill Creek High School
Environmental economics and management
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
Fifth grade was the start of my journey with Greening Forward. I went to a school that required community service hours; therefore, I was encouraged to look at my community and my role within it differently. I noticed my school campus’s littering problem and I knew immediately what I would do to earn my community service hours. What began as just a requirement evolved into a process of me learning more about community environmental issues and wanting to engage others in these efforts. After forming and leading a student organization called the Earth Savers Club throughout middle school that led a number of community efforts, including planting a community garden, starting a school recycling program and integrating environmental education topics into classroom curriculum, I wanted to show other young people how they could create similar campaigns within their communities. Therein lies my impetus from taking Greening Forward from just a website into an organization run by a team of young people to help other young people, ages 5-25, make a difference in their communities.
Since 2008, Greening Forward has organically grown into a leading organization supporting young environmental change-makers. Our volunteer staff of high school and college students trains and funds 2,000 young people from 50 partners in over 15 communities who impact another 10,000 community members. Greening Forward has given away over $58,000 in grants to youth-driven environmental projects across the country that help save water, plant trees and recycle waste. All together, we have saved 305,000 gallons of water, planted 300 trees and recycled 180 tons of waste.
Through my efforts in my community and national leadership, I was named a Presidential Leadership Scholar and Black Alumni Scholarship Recipient upon entering the University of Georgia.
CEO, Greening Forward
Student worker, Office of Institutional Diversity
Family Ties to UGA:
I do not have any family connections to the University of Georgia. However, I remember my mother, an alumnus of the University of South Carolina, dissuading me from attending a rival university. “Any school except Clemson and UGA,” she would say. Even my grandmother, who received her graduate degrees from the University of South Carolina, had to ultimately admit that there was “never really a competition” with UGA, and that UGA was always superior.
I chose to attend UGA because…
I valued UGA’s environmental economics and management program through the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, which offers an interdisciplinary approach to business and science. UGA was not on my radar until I chose to spend the summer of my junior year in high school working in a UGA Extension laboratory as a Young Scholar in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Office of Diversity Relations. That summer, I was exposed to the real UGA—a beautiful campus, a lively college town, helpful professors and every student I encountered loved the school.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
… practice my photography skills with a buddy. There are so many picture-ready shots on campus, and I love going out for an evening to capture portraits and landscapes, and then heading back to my dorm to practice photo manipulation in Photoshop. I encourage individuals to check out my photography at Charles Orgbon III Photography on Facebook.
When I have free time, I like…
… to call my friends around the world. My work with Greening Forward has allowed me to build many long-distance friendships, and I love keeping engaged with this network of friends who are doing spectacular things.
The craziest thing I've done is…
… jumping off a 30-foot pamper pole during team-building and high-ropes training as a camp counselor at the Union League Boys & Girls Club. Last summer, I had the privilege of working with youth from Chicago for eight weeks. Through them, I learned so much about myself, and learned that we only become stronger individuals when we face our fears. Not only did I face my fears of heights in high ropes, but I also rode the tallest, steepest and fastest wooden roller coaster, Goliath, at Six Flags Great America with my camp co-workers.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
Jimmy Carter would be the one. President Carter has not completely disappeared from the public sphere, but he has certainly become less visible as he’s focused his energy on charitable global health and humanitarian projects. There has not been a recent interview with the former president, and I bet he is willing to share more about his political career, life and world issues than people are asking right now.