When world leaders convene in Scotland for critical climate change negotiations later this month, The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program will be there.
The organization is sending a nine-person delegation to Glasgow for COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties. The Wild Center’s delegates will have a front-row seat as representatives from 197 countries seek solutions to mitigate ongoing effects of climate change.
As preparations for the third Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, on November 9th and 10th, are reaching a crescendo, science centers around the country and the world are in touch with The Wild Center in Tupper Lake to talk about using the Youth Summit model to create a shared summit platform that would allow students in different locations to share ideas and successes. The Summit will bring together more than 170 participants from 30 high schools and colleges across the Adirondacks and ultimately effect more than 25,000 students. The Summit is the only one of its kind in the country and has already led to financial savings and shifts in mindsets across the Park. Students who participated last year returned to their schools implementing change – creating school gardens to provide food for their cafeterias, expanding recycling and composting programs, replacing power strips with energy smart strips, examining energy saving opportunities by conducting carbon audits for their schools and presenting to school boards about their activities and financial savings. » Continue Reading.
By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities Thirty high schools, colleges and universities have gathered together for the 2nd Adirondack Youth Summit held at The Wild Center (Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks) in Tupper Lake. The two-daysummit has been a successful means for students, educators, administrators and staff to work together to build a realistic, achievable plan to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Through partnership schools learn, formulate and implement ideas regarding climate change. “Jen Kretser, Director of Programs at The Wild Center invited members of my Advanced Placement Environmental Science Class to attend the Adirondack Climate Conference held at The Wild Center in 2008 which created ADKCAP (Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan),” says Tammy Morgan, Lake Placid High School teacher. “My students were the only young people there. The conference mostly consisted of business people in the area that were coming together with not-for-profits and legislators to figure out a way to make the Adirondack Park a carbon neutral model.”
Morgan enthusiastically talks about how her students branched out to attend the various panels and workshops to achieve a broad spectrum of information. Morgan got more than she wished for. Not only did her students actively participate with adults that may have been intimidating to some but one her students, Zachary Berger, addressed the conference by getting to the heart of an ongoing issue, how to engage youth in climate change.
“At the end of the two-day conference there was an open space for discussion and Zachary stood up and brought up the fact that all weekend people were trying to find ways to engage young people but weren’t giving students a venue to do just that. He felt that students needed a place to be able to discuss and implement change.”
From that stand, many hours and volunteers, the Adirondack Youth Summit was born. That initial year each school set goals to achieve change. Some goals worked while others didn’t but most schools reported a high success rate by keeping goals simple and attainable.
After attending the Summit, Clarkson University created its new Institute for a Sustainable Environment while North Country Community College students developed a campus-wide recycling program. Other schools created composting programs, school gardens, and carbon reduction plans.
This year Lake Placid is just one of the schools at the Wild Center for the next two days. The other schools are Canton High School, Clarkson University, Colgate University, CV-TECH, Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School, Green Tech Charter High School, Indian River High School, Keene Central School, Lake Placid High School, Little River Community School, Long Lake Central School, Malone Central School District, Massena Central High School, Minerva Central School, Newcomb Central School, North Country Community College, Northwood School, Ogdensburg Free Academy, Paul Smith’s College, Plattsburgh High School, Potsdam High School, Salem Central School, Saranac Lake High School, St. Lawrence University, St. Regis Falls Central School, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Potsdam, Troy High School, and Tupper Lake High School.
The Summit will continue tomorrow, November 10th with all plenary sessions streamed live and available for future viewing.With an improved website, schools not in attendence are able to form action plans and given educational tools to start helping lower costs and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Local students are helping to plan for the second Adirondack Youth Climate Summit at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The two-day Summit, on November 9th and 10th, is expected to bring together more than 170 participants from 30 high schools and colleges across the Adirondacks and ultimately effect more than 25,000 students.
The Summit is the only one of its kind in the country and has already led to financial savings and shifts in mindsets across the Park according to Wild Center officials. Students who participated last year returned to their schools implementing change by creating school gardens to provide food for their cafeterias, expanding recycling and composting programs, replacing power strips with energy smart strips, examining energy saving opportunities by conducting carbon audits for their schools and presenting to school boards about their activities and financial savings. Each school will send a team including students, educators, administrators and facilities staff to develop their own actionable carbon reduction plan designed to decrease their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
The full agenda for the event can be found on the website www.adkyouthsummit.org.
Q: When you attended the Adirondack Climate Conference, held at The Wild Center, in November 2008, what inspired you to initiate an Adirondack Youth Climate Summit?
ZB: Last November’s conference was truly a success. I was very honored to have the opportunity to attend it, but I felt it was under represented by young adults. At this conference there were over 175 community leaders, business owners, and others, all with a concern for the environment, but there were only about 10 students, representing only one university, and one high school. From my point of view this under representation led to things being overlooked such as the lack of environmental education in public schools and the opportunity that schools have to set a model for their communities. The other students who attended the conference and I wanted to have our voices heard so we talked to Jen Kretser, Director of Programs at The Wild Center, and the planning process began.
Q: Though from Lake Placid you are now a freshman at RIT. Will you be attending this conference and if so what role will you take in this summit? If not, will you be attending the live stream and have you organized a group at your school to attend? What have you learned from this yearlong process and wish to pass along to others?
ZB: Yes, I will be attending the conference! I wouldn’t miss it for my life. Over the past year I have been part of the amazing team of people who worked endless hours putting this conference together. I will be at The Wild Center over the weekend doing last minute preparations, and during the conference I will be volunteering to keep things moving as planned.
If there was one thing I could tell others it would be: If you want to be successful in planning an event like this, find people with the same motivation and drive that you have. Having people to work with such as Jen Kretser from the Wild Center, and Mrs. Tammy Morgan from Lake Placid High School, really made this whole event come together.
Q: Why is it important for youth to have a voice on climate change?
ZB: Youth play a vital role in confronting climate change. We are investing years of our lives into our education, and will be entering the workforce very soon. Youth need to know the consequences of continuing to be carelessly affluent, what we can do both in our personal lives, and in our work lives to be more environmentally responsible. This summit will help students expand their knowledge on climate change while helping create carbon reduction plans for their schools.
Q: What is your own carbon reduction plan? What would you recommend for other young people that may inspire them to make a difference or to get involved in climate change?
ZB: Living at RIT has helped me to continue in reducing my personal carbon footprint. RIT provides every room with recycling bins for every room for electronics, plastic, paper, and cardboard. It is calculated that RIT’s recycling rate is over 70%. RIT also provides public transportation from campus into the city. Also, RIT is developing a new, web-based, rideshare website which helps those looking for rides and those who are willing to provide rides coordinate their schedules.
Registration for the 2009 Youth Climate is closed but schools, universities, parents and children can follow the two-day event via a live stream. Conceived by then 17-year-old Zachary Berger of Lake Placid after attending the Adirondack Climate Conference last year, this year’s summit illustrates to all young people that their opinions and ideas can make a difference. After much anticipation the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit will be held November 9th and 10th at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The 24 attending high schools and colleges will each send a team of students, educators, administrators and facilities staff to develop a feasible carbon reduction plan that decreases energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to bring back to their schools and communities.
Zachary Berger, inspired by the Adirondack Climate Conference held at The Wild Center in 2008, contacted conference planners to organize a similar gathering exploring climate change and its effect on the Adirondacks for the youth of the region. In early 2009, a steering committee, comprised of students, educators and The Wild Center staff, formed to bring Zach’s vision to fruition.
Berger says, “At the [Adirondack Climate] Conference there were over 175 community leaders, business owners, and others, all with a concern for the environment, but there were only about 10 students, representing only one university, and one high school. From my point of view this under representation led to things being overlooked such as the lack of environmental education in public schools.”
The Youth Climate Summit’s goal is multilevel, according to ADKCAP (Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan). The Summit will hold educational plenary sessions where research-based information will be presented about the economic and ecological effects of climate change. Participants will learn strategies to address climate change in the Adirondacks and how, when applied, communities will benefit monetarily.
Workshops are scheduled throughout the two-day event pairing students with experienced personnel to develop training skills to inspire participants to engage others to “green their schools and communities.” Through hands-on activities members will learn team-building skills in the hopes to engage classmates and coworkers in a grassroots effort to make their schools energy-efficient. During this process teams will develop a carbon and cost reduction plan to bring back to each school.
The following high schools and colleges are attending this inaugural year: Chateaugay Central School, Clifton-Fine Central School, Colton-Pierrepont Central School, Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School, Green Tech Charter High School, Heuvelton Central School, Keene Central School, Lake Placid High School, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Minerva Central School, Moriah Central School, Morristown Central School, Newcomb Central School, Northville Central School, Ogdensburg Free Academy, Plattsburgh High School, Potsdam High School, Saranac Lake Central School, St. Regis Falls, Tupper Lake Central School, Clarkson University, Colgate University, North Country Community College, Paul Smiths College, St. Lawrence University and SUNY Potsdam.
These institutions will serve as models in energy efficiency, sustainable energy usage, building maintenance, landscaping & grounds management, school & community garden planning, and how to affect the current science curriculum in schools. (The Summit is aligned with NYS Commencement Level MST Standards.)
The Adirondack Youth Climate Summits are scheduled through 2011 to monitor the success of each climate action plan. There will also be the opportunity for those Adirondack schools that watch the live web stream to participate in future summits. The complete schedule information is available here.
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