The final quarter of the year is upon us, and change is all around. Whether it is in the season and the transforming trees and creeping cold, or the feel of easing into a slower time of year. While we transition into this grounding season we are celebrating the hard work and passion of the October Climate Hero of the Month – Valley Lopez!

While Valley’s journey with 350 Colorado winded from intern first to then staff member, we’re going to focus this post on the beginning of his time.

After playing music professionally for a decade, Valley changed direction when he discovered the ecosystem losses in Glacier National Park. The urgent nature of environmental issues led him to leave Montana and relocate to Colorado in 2020, where he returned to school to seek progressive sustainability solutions. He recently completed a degree in Geography: Environment, Society, and Sustainability at The University of Colorado Denver. While pursuing that degree Valley applied to the Movement Building Internship in August 2022 looking for an opportunity to engage with the climate movement in Colorado.

“I remember being immediately struck by his passion and how serious he was to make a difference. He was clear about what he was looking for and what he could contribute to the movement,” says Chelsea Alexander, Movement Building & Volunteer Director. “After I interviewed him it was clear he was going to make a big impact!”

So when Valley accepted the offer to intern with us and started in September 2022, he was interning both for Movement Building & the Youth Action Committee (YAC) – their first intern they ever worked with!

“I met Valley when he first started as an intern at 350 Colorado. He was our first YAC and movement building volunteer and he set the bar extremely high!  Since I have gotten to know Valley he handled every task with grace and compassion. As a YAC intern the majority of the people he was working with were youth, and I don’t think I could have expected a better ally,” says Phoebe Dominguez, YAC founder and co-chair. “He understood the expectations of being an ally and continued to learn as he went.”

Valley immediately got to work by meeting and getting to know the members of YAC. A big project was already underway, the For Our Future Youth Climate Conference, and there were plenty of things to do to get ready. Figure out a headcount to order food and get drinks, who is picking things up, securing speakers, etc. And no matter the task, Valley brought a contagious energy to getting things done. It might seem small, but for example, 350CO was in desperate need of a new portable sound system, and with Valley’s background and expertise in music and live sound he was able to find us the best one for the best value! It truly was a historic moment months later when we were able to recycle the old sound system once and for all, barely held together by glue and past chants and speeches.

And needless to say, the Youth Climate Conference was a smashing success! Valley helped oversee multiple logistics of the day, checking and modifying the microphone and sound as needed. He was one of the last organizers that day there loading the cars up and making sure the space was clean.

Not only was Valley supporting YAC’s plans and actions, but he was helping build serious grassroots momentum too. Whether he was working to recruit, engage, or empower other activists, Valley had a way of working his magic through multiple channels. Through his outreach and connections he helped give presentations to university classes, growing the climate movement with the minds of today and tomorrow. He also planned and helped bring things together with other organizers when the 350 Metro Denver Team put on their first public comment training in September 2022 in Commerce City for the community. It might have been the first time he was doing it, but you would have never known! He was a fantastic teammate throughout, ready to pivot with any last need that came up.

“Valley is a thoughtful and dedicated climate leader! He shows up to his work with enthusiasm and integrity.”

– Elysa Firestone, Promoting Climate Solutions Coordinator 


And when the local team decided to run back the public comment training opportunity, partnering this time with Black Parents United Foundation (BPUF) to put one on in December 2022 in Aurora, Valley was again a key player from beginning to end. Motivating others to use their voice to influence policy and decision-makers takes a lot, especially if someone hasn’t done it before. But speaking with passion and sincerity goes a long way, and when Valley presented on different sections of the training he shined!

After his internship ended in December 2022 he then spent a wonderful year here in most of 2023 working with us as the Promoting Climate Solutions Coordinator as one of our teammates was away on maternity leave. “During his time with 350 Colorado, Valley ensured that the potential to advocate for climate legislation was streamlined and accessible for all who wanted to participate. Valley is a detail oriented, steadfast climate hero and I can’t wait to see what he does next,” says Elysa.  

We would have to write a whole separate post if we were to attempt to cover all the incredible things Valley did with us this year alone. But to keep it short and sweet, he mobilized hundreds of activists, met with legislators, pushed key legislation, collaborated with other organizations, held a celebratory legislative session wrap-up event for organizers in May, and even found time to help tear apart our organizational storage unit to help organize it and put it back together! Thank you Valley!

And fast forward to just last month when Valley relocated to the UK, where he is pursuing his Masters in Environmental Studies at The University of Oxford. In his free time when he isn’t studying he enjoys hiking, listening to audiobooks, traveling, playing video games, and hanging out with his fat cat Gena.

When asked about what others can do to make a difference, this was Valley’s offering: “The climate crisis is staggering when contemplated in its full enormity. There was a time when I felt overwhelmed and unsure how I could make a difference. I know others feel the same, but I hope they can see that we do have real, tangible solutions to the challenges we face. Change starts with a simple action. Volunteer with your local non profits. Educate others. Speak with your elected officials. Eat less meat. Most importantly, don’t lose hope!

YAC has a parting message to share with Valley as well: “Valley is an incredible human being and we at YAC will miss him dearly. We wish you luck in all of your future endeavors and hope that you take the experiences that you had with YAC with you as you grow. We love you Valley!!”

Thank you so much Valley for all the incredible things you did in your time with us. Your brought your best skills and gifts to every project, meeting, and campaign moment, and it made things fun and productive – a great combo! You went above and beyond to improve anything you interacted with and we are forever grateful for all your hard work. Keep doing great things, we know you will!

Want to be our next Climate Hero of the month? Join the climate movement and shine with your unique skills! Email