White House Honors Two of Louisiana’s ‘Champions of Change’

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On April 17, the White House honored two Louisiana community leaders for their commitment to preparing communities for the consequences of climate change.

Patrick Barnes and Rebecca Templeton were two among a group of 12 individuals chosen to be part of the White House’s Champions of Change initiative.

The initiative last week honored 12 citizens, businesses and community leaders from around the country who work tirelessly to build community resilience by preparing for increasingly extreme weather and other costly climate-related impacts.

Barnes is a professional geologist and president of the Gulf Coast’s largest African American-owned environmental consulting firm, BFA Environmental. Some of his projects include water resource consulting and designing and managing several large-scale coastal resiliency projects. Through his work with coastal resiliency projects he realized there was a lack of African-American men and women receiving jobs from the large-scale contracts in the field, so he established Limitless Vistas, Inc, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to give poor and minority communities’ access to the work.

“There is a huge segment of the population not connected to job opportunities that will become available in the region,” Barnes said. “We need to get these youth trained.”

Through his connections at BFA Environmental, Barnes has access to the scientists and engineers needed to train the youth. What’s unique about BFA and Limitless, Barnes said, is the interrelationship between the two. The urgency to train these children now is important because of the employment potential in the near future.

“With the BP oil spill, there will be about 30,000 to 60,000 environmental jobs in the next 10 to 15 years,” Barnes said. “And most of these jobs will be entry level.” Read more here.