Daisy Power remembers the day one of her favourite swimming spots became out of bounds.
Didymo, often known as rock snot, had spread to a stream near Lake Taup? and it was polluted.
The 16-year-old believes her peers are more aware of environmental issues than previous generations, possibly because it is clear their lives will be affected more by factors like climate change.
"I think it's our responsibility to do something. It's really sad, I think, the state our country has got to."
"A lot has been happening and it has been happening exponentially. It keeps getting worse and worse. We are not doing anything to stop it, but I think it's definitely something we can't ignore."
Daisy, who goes to Nga Tawa Diocesan School in Rangit?kei, will be part of a group of 55 young people from throughout the country gathering in Taranaki for the Youth EnviroLeaders Forum from April 14.
They will spend seven days learning about environmental programmes and leadership, listening to speakers and getting outdoors for activities related to the environment, with the aim to take their ideas and skills back to their communities.
"I hope going to this will open up doors so I can make a practical difference and really inspire the girls at school."
Power's subjects for school include three sciences and two maths classes, but her favourite is biology, which she hopes to develop into a career that could also connect her back the environment.
"I see the need for it. I'm really interested to hear about how climate change is going to affect organisms and the ecology.
"Once we understand how things are changing, we'll be able to make a better difference and change the situation."