And yet to this day, when I look at my textbooks, there’s nothing in them about climate change to teach young people about it and what they can do. That needs to change. ~ from Shiva’s September 15, 2022 interview for Sierra Magazine.
Newly elected Boise Independent School District Trustee is a rising star in Idaho politics and activism. Thanks to one of his mentors, Sam Sandmire, for this biography.
Featured image: Shiva with Boise City Council Member Jimmy Halliburton
Shiva Rajbhandari was born in Boise & attended Highlands Elementary, North Junior High, Treasure Valley Math & Science Center & Boise High.
He got involved in politics through the climate justice movement in ninth grade when he attended a climate strike organized by the Sunrise Movement and took the opportunity to speak at an open mic. He then co-founded Extinction Rebellion Youth Boise, which is where he started organizing climate strikes and a community garden.
Shiva then got hired by the Idaho Conservation League and helped organize Youth Salmon Protectors. In 2020, Shiva helped lead BABE VOTE volunteers in registering over 2500 Idahoans to vote. His work continues as BABE VOTE’s Youth Engagement Director. When student voting rights were under attack in the legislature, Shiva organized testimony training and encouraged several students to testify against voter suppression bills. None of these bills became law. Shiva also worked with Reclaim Idaho to organize students to collect signatures to get education funding on the ballot and collected signatures for the Medicaid Expansion initiative.
Shiva provided strong testimony for teachers and against baseless claims of student indoctrination at Lieutenant Governor, Janice McGeachin’s Education Task Force.
Shiva worked with the Idaho Climate Justice League with students all across the state to develop a long-term plan for clean energy and sustainable schools. His disappointment in the Boise School Board’s lack of concrete action on the plan was part of Shiva’s impetus to run for office as a Trustee.
Shiva’s top issues as a Boise School Board Trustee are improving mental health resources (like later school start times and more counselors), supporting teachers & creating sustainability in schools. Shiva has publicly called out attacks by the Idaho Liberty Dogs, who showed up armed with AR-15s to a climate strike he helped organize when he was in 9th grade and who recently accused librarians of peddling pornography to children, tried to ban books and verbally attacked Rabbi Fink, an esteemed community leader. Shiva’s swift, unequivocal rebuke of this extremist group likely won him votes in the School Board election.
Shiva said he is eager to collaborate with fellow trustees, with teachers and with students to meet challenges the Boise School District faces. Shiva believes students deserve representation in all areas, but especially where important decisions are being made about their education. He hopes his experience will encourage other young people to get involved in their governance and he will advocate for the Boise School Board to appoint a student to the board when he leaves office.
Shiva is optimistic that, if young people and students are given a voice and a vote, they can and will help solve climate change, improve mental health and save democracy.
About the Author: Sam Sandmire
After a highly successful twenty year stint as Boise State University’s Head Gymnastics Coach, Sam became a community organizer & activist. She is a past President of the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley and served as Idaho Special Olympics World Winter Games Commissioner.