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CLASS Senior Creates Her Future in Climate Advocacy

Article by David Jackson, University Communications and Marketing
Courtesy photos from Heather Chen and Ella Weber

At a relatively young age, Ella Weber realized she could convince her parents to let her skip school for only two reasons: downhill skiing after waking up to fresh powder or joining a protest march. She missed quite a few days over the years – even during mild winters.

Weber brought two of her biggest passions, environmental activism and a desire to find more effective ways to accomplish her goals, to University of Idaho in 2021. While maintaining her unapologetic ferocity for causes she believes in, she also learned that working within the system to make changes is an effective counterbalance to marching.

“I’ve always been passionate about issues I care about and have been on the front line for things that are important to me,” said the senior from Boise. “But I’ve also learned there is great power in building a network of people around you to help solve big problems.”

Four people posing with people in background.
Ella Weber (second from left) and climate advocates in New York City.
Ella Weber portrait.
Ella Weber.

Senior Sneak

Dedicated to fighting climate change, and thus helping restore the clean air and snow-covered hills she grew up with, Weber joined the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences as a political science major. She eventually became interested in taking philosophy classes as well, understanding that learning more about human nature could help her fight more effectively for her beliefs.

“Ella is adept at seeing the connections between broad, general theories in political philosophy and concrete issues in politics,” said Graham Hubbs, professor of philosophy and the faculty member Weber identified as her outstanding mentor when she received an Office of Alumni Relations Award for Excellence last year. “I think this allows her to approach her challenges from more thoughtful and creative angles.”

It was also with much thought that Weber approached her professors last September after deciding to reengage her activism by joining a protest at the Federal Reserve in New York during Climate Week NYC, a week-long climate change event. She told them she planned on actively protesting and wanted to make sure her participation wouldn’t affect her status in school.

I’ve always been passionate about issues I care about and have been on the front line for things that are important to me. But I’ve also learned there is great power in building a network of people around you to help solve big problems. Ella Weber, senior

“I think for the most part we were just really proud of her,” said Bryce Blankenship, senior instructor of philosophy. “She wasn’t going there to cause any damage or harm anyone – she was bringing attention to something she really believes in.”

Weber was arrested, charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of traffic, held for several hours, then released.

When she returned to Moscow, many of her instructors and classmates had copies of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News ready for her to see – complete with a photo of her in handcuffs.

Weber had prepared most of the people she spoke with about the likelihood of being arrested, even if one person didn’t really internalize what she said.

“I warned my mom about it too, but I don’t think she believed I would actually go,” she said. "She eventually came around and now a framed photo of me in handcuffs hangs in my bedroom at home."

Graham Hubbs

Professor of Philosophy, PPE Program Director, Pre-Law Advisor

205I Administration Building


Woman in pink with police officer behind her surrounded by group of people.
Ella Weber being arrested during protest in New York City.

Diving In

Not wanting to wait any longer to start fighting for the environment from within the system, Weber decided to move to Washington, D.C. after the 2023 Fall semester. She is taking a full class load this spring and will graduate in May with B.A.s in political science and philosophy, all while working 32 hours a week interning on Capitol Hill.

Weber gained valuable political experience during her time at U of I. She worked on several local and regional campaigns, including Blankenship’s run for Moscow City Council in 2023. She was also involved in ASUI student government, serving as the Director of Community and Civic Involvement and Director of Internal Services.

“She was a tireless worker,” Blankenship said. “She had incredible foresight on organization and communication strategies. I don’t think I would have been successful without her help.”


Bryce Blankenship

Senior Instructor of Philosophy

313-D Administration Building


Weber’s future in climate advocacy may lie in politics or in the private sector. Among the topics she’s interested in are climate workforce ideas, how companies think about how they operate through a climate lens, as well as other climate-driven solutions to niche problems.

“Every single college graduate will face a changing workforce as more businesses, organizations, and companies face the climate crisis and try to figure out how to navigate it," she said.

However she ends up fighting for climate issues, she leaves U of I with the knowledge that activism and politics can work together, and there are always allies who can help you along the way.

“I think one of my biggest takeaways from college is the idea of community building,” she said. “Going to protests may not be for everyone, but there are people willing to listen and who want to help you if you share the same beliefs. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.”

Campus Locations

Physical Address:
Bruce M. Pitman Center
875 Perimeter Drive MS 4264
Moscow, ID 83844-4264

Phone: 208-885-6111

Fax: 208-885-9119