Sleepy Hollow Fifth Grader Fights for Climate Change

Colin says his visit to Glacier National Park partially inspired his interest in stopping
climate change.

A group of young New Yorkers traveled to a Nov. 30 press conference in Albany to demand Gov. Kathy Hochul sign the proposed NY Heat Act when it reaches her desk. The conference was called Youth Climate Leaders Unite for the NY HEAT Act. It was created by the organization Renewable Heat Now, which is a movement created by a coalition of climate activist groups to create a New York that is free from fossil fuels. If Hochul signs the bill, it will hopefully reduce state carbon emissions by reworking previous laws that relate to gas services and sales, according to the state government website.   

The youngest speaker at the conference was Colin Ricker from Sleepy Hollow. The 10-year-old Mindcraft and Legend of Zelda fan first became aware of the movement after Assemblywoman Maryjane Shimsky invited him to speak while he attended an event from the organization Mothers Out Front at the Hudson Valley Writers Center. According to its website, Mothers Out Front is a movement that fights for “climate, racial, and social justice” for the sake of the next generation, and it is one of the many groups that is a part of Renewable Heat Now.  

Even at his young age, the fifth grader is already taking measures against the effects of climate change. “In 2030, before I get my driver’s license, all the glaciers in Glacier National Park will be melted,” he said in his speech. Colin talked extensively about his visit to the national park over the summer, which partially inspired his interest in stopping climate change. He even led a chant at the rally demanding climate justice. He implored his audience to “consider our future,” and how climate change is already at our doorstep. After the conference, a staff member of Shimsky’s approached Colin to congratulate him on his achievement.  

Colin still knows there is more to be done, especially by those in power. When Hochul did not attend the conference herself, Colin expressed annoyance about the lack of action by government on climate issues. While the students did write postcards to state government, Colin thought a bigger impact would be made if she showed up in person. However, it is not only politicians that Colin believes can help fight climate change; it’s up to us as individuals to promote a healthier climate. Colin specifically recommends using electric cars instead of traditional gas-powered vehicles.  The extreme heat and unprecedented California wildfires that affected air quality last spring, which Colin mentioned in his speech, were a clear sign that something was wrong with our environment.  

On January 9, Gov. Hochul included key provisions of the NY HEAT Act in her State of the State outline, including ending the so-called “100 foot rule,” and giving the Public Service Commission the tools it needs to provide a gas system transition plan that adequately complies with the state’s nation-leading climate law.


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About the Author: Charlotte Fuchs