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This Middle Schooler From Fort Lauderdale Wants To Save The Environment. So She Became A Reporter.

Diamond Jennah
Iniyah Jones, 12, center, in the field at the Carpenter House in Hollywood on her first Scholastic Kids Press assignment. She interviewed Education Coordinator, Carley Todd, left, and Program Coordinator, Kelly Martin, right.

Meet Iniyah Jones. The 12 year-old is in 6th grade at Seminole Middle School, in Plantation. 

And she's already pursuing a career in journalism. 

Jones is one of only two students in Florida to participate in the Scholastic Kids Press program, an international press corps experience where 50 young reporters from around the world write articles, and work with editors to report what's going on where they live  - from Shanghai to the United States.  

This year, 25 new kids, ages 10 to 14, were initiated as young reporters within the program. Iniyah is the only one covering the South Florida region. 

Her mom - Diamond Jennah - said Jones has been on the path towards journalism for a while.

"I knew for a long time that writing would be one of her passions,” Jennah said. “And I used to tell her, 'Oh you need to become an investigative journalist because you're always asking me questions: why? How? Where?' I was like, we have to find something to expand on this."

WLRN sat down with Jones to get some interviewing pointers. 

WLRN: What made you want to become a reporter?

JONES: Well, ever since I was like little, I would always ask why... I like to know things, like making sure that what I know is clarified I guess. So that I have a better understanding of it.

To become a Scholastic Kids reporter, you've already had to do some interviews and writing. Who did you decide to talk to and why? 

My teachers, because I feel like my teachers, they've been through the different schooling and the different aspects of their job. And then I interviewed my cheer coaches because they push me to be the best I can be. And then I interviewed my camp coaches, because I feel like they could be at any other job in the world but they decided to come here - and I wanted to know why. 

What issues do you think journalists should be covering more, and focusing on more?

I mostly like writing about the environment. The earth is made up of mostly ocean and I feel like people should be covering more on the ocean.

You already got to do your first article. Where'd you go? 

My first article is going to be about turtles. We went to [the Marine Environmental Education Center at The Carpenter House] and the article was mainly about, like, what we can do as people to help save the environment. I was taking notes as we were going through, but I took as much as I can, like, trying to keep up with how they're talking.

You can read Iniyah's first article, here

Anywhere around the world people could read the article about the Carpenter House. How do you look at South Florida stories and try to write for a big audience like that?

People in other states, or countries, or cities they could, from an article, read about what they can do to help without actually coming down, what they can do in their state or city.

Read More: Hundreds Of Hollywood Beachgoers Clean Up Trash In Honor Of Earth Day

How important is it for kids your age to talk about climate change or these big important issues, so that adults listen?

As kids, I feel like we think something and we're going to make it happen because it takes one person. One person can change the opinion of anyone. And, all it takes is that one person that has enough courage to do something. They can add other people in, and then those people can add in their friends and their friends and their friends, and then it will just be a whole neighborhood. So I feel like kids, once they get older, it will just go on for, like, generations and generations.

Do you feel listened to when you tell adults, 'hey, we need to take better care of the planet?’

As a kid, I feel like I need to step up to make sure that adults are hearing what I need to say, thinking that, 'oh, this is not just some simple thing that we can just change like that, in the snap of a finger.' It's something that we need to work towards, so that it can change over time. 

I'm hoping my reporting can reach out to people and actually give them ideas of what they can do to help save our environment.

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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