Paul-Anthony Présendieu-Cuesta, 27

Director of Community Gardening Habitat for Humanity of Westchester County

Paul-Anthony Présendieu-Cuesta doesn’t fit the typical profile of most environmental activists on college campuses. In fact, he’s often the sole Republican voice and an advocate for making environmentalism a nonpartisan issue.

In his volunteer role as director of community gardening at Habitat for Humanity, Présendieu-Cuesta spends upwards of 80 hours a month helping to maintain 14 community gardens throughout the county. He loved doing nature trail clean-ups as a Boy Scout (“Shout out to Troop 11!” he says.) and credits his time there for inspiring him to become an environmentalist.

As a student at Westchester Community College, he took the initiative to plan Earth Day because the campus hadn’t planned anything to celebrate it for several years. Présendieu-Cuesta continues to take a leadership role in the event, working with disparate groups to implement a renewable-energy fair, conducting a campus-wide cleanup, and registering voters with the aid of the NY League of Conservation Voters. “A lot of younger Americans think that environmental reform can only happen at the federal level, and they often overlook the changes that we can make locally,” he says.

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Présendieu-Cuesta loves planting trees for their longevity and because they improve air quality. “I love the different walks of life working together in the community garden, and I love the fact that one day I could be walking with my grandchildren and say to them: ‘I planted this tree.’”

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