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Millennials & Why It’s Cool To Be Conscious and Actively Involved

By September 28, 2014January 31st, 20249 Comments

The subject of “Millennials” generally conjures up adjectives like lazy or entitled. No work ethic. Spoiled brats, the lot of them. TIME Magazine went so far as to call millennials the “Me Me Me Generation”.

This has not been my experience with the teens and twenty-somethings among us. In fact, I can honestly say that I find myself relating to many millennials better than I relate to my own generation. Maybe that just makes me juvenile. But that’s a perspective lazier that the millennial stereotype itself.

Admittedly, my exposure to this cross-section of our society is somewhat self-selecting. But it’s worth noting that over the last several years I’ve had the good fortune of meeting dozens of incredibly dynamic, conscious and entrepreneurial young people. Kids highly engaged in things my generation didn’t give a crap about like permaculture, social issues, sustainability, conservation and mindfulness. Students with doctorates and business degrees who could be on Wall Street instead toiling away on organic farms, working for non-profits, or starting their own — choosing career paths based not on security and salary but on impact. People leveraging the power of social media to challenge societal norms, disrupt outdated modalities, create self-styled careers that didn’t previously exist and launch their own grassroots movements.

The common thread is the singular goal — to make the world a better place for all of us.

Jackson Foster is one of these guys — the best kind of millennial. A guy whose life presented him with every open door possible, it would have been easy for Jackson to simply step into a safe and secure (an illusion I know, but you get my point) high paying business career.

But Jackson has other plans.

In high school, while most of Jackson’s teen peers were playing video games, partying and generally just acting like, well teenagers, Jackson spent a year in the Colorado wilderness. After being accepted into the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, he decided instead to defer so he could travel – a year spent bicycling across the US, hiking the John Muir Trail, mountaineering in Laos and even working at an orangutan orphanage in Borneo.

These experiences left him thinking about one thing: food.

Jackson noticed how food greatly affected the livelihood of different communities around the world, which motivated a desire to immerse himself in diet and lifestyle study. This exploration left him with no choice but to walk his talk; a wholesale transition from a beer drinking, weed smoking, junk food vegetarian teenager reborn as a whole food plant-based activist and educator.

Jackson transferred from RISD to Colorado College as an Environmental Policy major and went to work. Outside his college coursework he found the time to: become a Certified Yoga Instructor; obtain a  Certification In Plant-based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies ; start the website Plantriotic ; found and chair a vegan student group at Colorado College; write for Vegan Health and Fitness Magazine ; spend his summers working with environmental groups like ; help with student recruitment for the recent People’s Climate March in New York City; and last but hardly least, begin work on his first book.

How’s that for a lazy, entitled millennial?

I first met this week’s enterprising young guest last Spring when he invited me to speak at Colorado College. It was a fantastic experience, which included quality time spent with him, his fellow students as well as his documentary filmmaker brother and lovely and incredibly supportive parents, all three of whom flew out from Los Angeles just to support Jackson in hosting my presentation.

In stark contrast to my self-obsessed, party-dominated college experience, I was struck by Jackson’s passion as well as inspired by his personal story. An evolution from typical high school student to independent thinker with an unequivocal dedication to fostering a healthier, more ethical and sustainable approach to individual and planetary wellness.

Even if you happen to disagree with aspects of his point of view (Jackson is nothing if not a bit radical, admittedly so) you will be hard pressed not to be impressed by his conviction; his selfless devotion to service; and the courageous choices this young man has made for the simple sake of making the world just a little bit better.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the conversation.

Peace + Plants,



Connect with Jackson: PlantrioticFacebook | Twitter | YouTube


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  • Alastair says:

    Great podcast!! Good work lads.

  • Elise Rothman d'Hauthuille says:

    Great listening to both of you.

  • James Brusseau says:

    I really enjoyed this podcast. Thank you, Rich!

  • Maryann says:

    Interesting podcast. The description of killing a chicken got too graphic for me. In the future you might want to warn listeners in the intro, and even give an amount of time to skip ahead.

  • Jim Newell says:

    As a person who engages with and teaches young people Jackson’s age in the College Composition classroom, I herald his passion and involvement. I enjoy that his quest has led him to change his eating habits, his behaviors and his goals. I hope that as he matures, he will begin to acknowledge that there are other materials out there to build his foundation of knowledge. Even if he doesn’t agree with opposing views about diet, health, farming, and the environment, he needs to let his audience know he has taken the time to listen to the many sides of these complex and convoluted issues. As humans or “beings,” as noted by many on Rich’s podcast, we are still very young and need to understand the “answers” we gather and choose to believe are and should be considered possibilities. Listening, learning and testing theories is a vital part of the equation.

  • Ann says:

    What a fascinating conversation. I didn’t listen to it right away because of my own prejudices triggered by this guest’s description, but am so glad I came back with a more open mind. The fact that Jackson is so young hopefully means the world will benefit that much longer from his considerable intelligence and energy. Rich, I think you make a perfect interviewer for this young guest because it sounds like you interact with your own young people in an open and nurturing way, really listening to what they have to say.

  • Doug Anctil says:

    Wow, I wish my eye were half as open as his at 21. Great podcast. Thanks Rich

  • Josh Meckel says:

    I have not got to that point yet, thank you for letting me know. I listen in the car, so I will do my best to skip when it gets to it.

  • magnumqt says:

    My simple reaction to the this podcast is: Hope for the future. I applaud Jackson for his idealism and pursuit of truth. Even more than that I am impressed by his drive to share the message and commit his life to it. Intelligent and wise beyond his years — I guarantee that I was WAY more self-centered at his age so hats off to you Jackson for being willing to stand up to these vital issues when so many are more apt to just check out.

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