Newark Charter Junior/Senior High School student Vyshnavi Kosigishroff grew up in a family of scientists. When she was eight years old, she began to take an interest in Delaware’s factories, which have been known for emitting plumes of toxic chemicals into the air every day.
One day, she turned to her dad and asked him what the toxic chemicals were, and he told her about air quality and ozone.
“The ozone layer depletion is really what catalyzed me to read up about the environment and read up on environmental legislation,” Kosigishroff said. “Because we only have one Earth and it’s not a partisan issue - we all share the same Earth - that got me interested in science, and just the carelessness that we all seem to be having with our Earth.”
Organizing the Newark March for Science
Kosigishroff founded an environmental club in her school and noticed an increase in membership a few months ago, presumably due to the Trump administration’s comments calling climate change a hoax. She decided she wanted the club to hold a rally on science and policy, and reached out to a teacher to figure out the logistics.
Her teacher connected her to Dounya Ramadan, a junior from a family built upon scientific careers, who had already been thinking about organizing a March for Science.
Ramadan said after hearing recent news on the Dakota Access Pipeline and Environmental Protection Agency cuts, her passion for science grew stronger.
“It kind of cut to me that our environment might be in peril because we haven’t paid attention to how these things actually matter in protecting our environment,” Ramadan said.
The March for Science is an upcoming event in Washington D.C. organized by scientists to showcase the importance of science in the world and how science should be handled in politics. The march has already gained widespread recognition and many local marches have spawned as a result.
It’s something the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark had been considering for a while, said Anne Green with the UUFN.
“I’ve never met a Unitarian Universalist who doesn’t love science and the earth,” Green said.
On the heels of the success of the Women’s March, Green said the UUFN wanted to put a family-friendly spin on science. She went to register the march in Newark and found out the spot was already taken by Kosigishroff and Ramadan, leading the three of them to team up for it.
Why science matters in Delaware
Delaware’s low elevation has sparked a concern among many environmental groups including the Delaware Sierra Club, as members have previously said a part of Delaware could be permanently underwater by the year 2100 if seas continue to rise.
And Green, Kosigishroff and Ramadan all agree climate change is fact because it's been proven in many scientific studies.
With a portion of Delaware’s coast at stake, Green said she feels the approach on the debate about climate change needs to shift.
“I think that the debate should be what are we going to do about it, how are we going to handle it,” Green said. “We have a seashore, we have ports. If the oceans rise, that affects us. We’re going to need to budget for changes for that.”
Delaware's poor air quality is also a major concern, and Kosigishroff said if these issues are pushed aside, she worries that her future children will see a much different Earth than she sees today.
“I want my children to know what a glacier is, that’s a concern for me,” Kosigishroff said. “It shouldn’t be a concern for me but it is.”
Both Kosigishroff and Ramadan say they worry about the line being blurred between science and politics. Trump’s recent budget proposal has cut a portion of the National Institutes of Health’s budget, the EPA’s budget, and put the entire Delaware Sea Grant - a coastal research program - at stake of being eliminated.
“At this time, the scientific community is being targeted and put into a political stance,” Ramadan said. “Science is not a political issue.”
Ramadan said that’s why the goal of the Newark March for Science is to bring people with a common interest in science together and re-ignite the passion for science and the earth, hoping to show how Delawareans need science in their everyday lives.
Approaching April 22 - the March for Science
On the day of the March for Science, the UUFN will host a bunch of activities geared to children and families at 420 Willa Rd. in Newark.
Participants will be able to look at a bug collection, watch a physics experiment, make seed balls and learn about horseshoe crabs, among other activities.
The activities are geared at showing why science matters, Green said.
“When you take a child outside, they start to play,” Green said. “Right away they’re picking things up, they’re feeling things, they’re looking at how they look, they’re understanding their environment around them. It’s all connected to science. When they splash in a puddle or pull little bugs out, that’s all connected.”
More information on the Delaware March for Science and Our Earth can be found on the UUFN website.