Leader Profile: Gwen Froh
An interview with Gwen Froh of Marin County SR2S
Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you worked or volunteered in this field?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) in Marin for 6 years. I became more and more involved with the program because the people who worked there were incredible – passionate, invested in the next generation, and committed to the environment and sustainable communities. It was a perfect fit for me as I strongly believe in the health benefits of active transportation. I also believe in empowering youth to “take back” their planet which is at risk of irreversible damage due to carbon emissions triggering climate change.
Was there a specific moment that really made you want to work in your field?
We gave newly refurbished bikes to underserved families through our Teens Go Green Club at Miller Creek Middle School. We held a bike donation drive and collected 80 used bikes. After months of cleaning and repairing the bikes, we matched bikes with underserved Novato students who pledged to use them. I will never forget the look of joy on the faces of the kids and parents that received a bike, many of whom had never learned to ride before. A month later, I heard from a Novato resident that this action changed the lives of many of the families who were spotted traveling all over town on these bikes.
Have you had to overcome any barriers in reaching and/or making an impact in your community?
High school students say that too much information is being broadcast to them so new events or campaigns are often difficult to draw student’s attention to. Additionally, students will graduate and new students need to be trained in leadership roles each year, so it’s hard to maintain traction. Nonetheless, all actions contribute to success, and the more they are repeated, the more those events become institutionalized from year to year.
For example, Drake High School implemented a No Cars on Campus Day 5 years ago; students walk/roll to school leaving Drake’s front parking lot empty of cars. Because it is repeated every year, No Cars on Campus has great name recognition so that little advertising is needed.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in supporting similar work?
A two percent mode shift is huge in the transportation world, so patience is needed for this work. Knowing how to work and encourage teens is a tremendous benefit. Habits are hard to break, so knowing a bit about how to change and motivate human behavior is a plus. Additionally, the whole topic of climate change can be a daunting and dismal subject for people; it’s important to provide hope that actions do culminate in positive change.