Germany's Gisela Enders Encourages Kids to Save the Earth
To say that Gisela Enders has a hectic lifestyle would be an understatement. She's so busy that this 31-year-old German woman thinks of her home - an apartment in Kassel - as her "vacation cottage." With the exception of a long weekend twice a month, Enders can be found in Bonn, where she's the executive director of BUNDjugend, translated as "Youth Organization of Friends of the Earth Germany."
While Enders says, "I share the tasks with another part-time executive director," her plate is definitely full. With ten employees and countless volunteers, she is organizing Environmental Kids Day, with activities planned for 60,000 children throughout Germany. As if that isn't enough, BUNDjugend produces a newsletter for 400 environmental youth groups in Germany and publishes a quarterly magazine for kindergarten teachers. Enders says, "I have to oversee all these activities, report to the board, delegate tasks, and hire new employees. Oh, and it's not only the office in Bonn I'm responsible for. We also have three regional offices, in Berlin, Potsdam and Magdeburg."
But Enders has an impressive environmental resume that proves she's up for the task. At the tender age of 14, she was concerned about damage to German forests and advocated lower energy consumption and more efficient power plants. While still in high school, she was on the board of directors of the international European Youth Forest Action and organized a series of environmental protests by young people touring on busses and bikes. By the time she was 21, Enders was elected the national youth speaker for BUNDjugend.
Even during a four-year hiatus from the environmental youth movement, Enders couldn't set aside her passion. While working as executive director of Dicke e.V., an advocacy and educational organization for German people of size, she became active in the Green Party, a political party whose roots are in issues affecting the environment, gender equality, and peace. Ultimately, though, Enders couldn't stay away from core environmental issues. "After four years without BUNDjugend, I figured that I could come back to be executive director with a different, grown-up view on the involvement of young people in environmental activism."
When she's not organizing kids to save the earth, Enders works in the field of traffic planning. She says, "My work is mostly leading and organizing discussions about traffic issues for the public." She's also a time management trainer, saying, "You can bet I'm good at that!"
During what little time Enders has back in Kassel, "I work on my book (about size acceptance), enjoy life, spend time with my friends and bike a lot, since I don't have a car," she reveals.
She's definitely not a party animal. Enders says, "I don't really like parties. I prefer to be with my friends, have time to talk, and drink a good wine."
And the only gambling she does is with the German government. Enders says, "BUNDjugend's program, 'The Bet' is wagering that in seven months, 200 schools can effectively reduce carbon dioxide emissions 10%, a goal the German government hopes to reach in seven years." Knowing the passion that she brings to her life and her work, our money is on Enders.