Tupper Lake, N.Y. - Last month the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) launched a new Climate Education and Literacy Initiative to help connect American students and citizens with the best-available, science based information about climate change. The launch included a number of commitments by Federal agencies and outside groups to increase the nation's knowledge of climate change.

The Wild Center's innovative Adirondack Youth Climate Summit was recognized as a nationally important tool to move this conversation forward. The OSTP press release announced that in 2015 the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), The Wild Center and the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DOE), will hold 10 Youth Climate Summits throughout the United States and five in other areas of the world, directly engaging over 1,000 student leaders. The Youth Climate Summits will provide an opportunity for high-school, college and university students to gain leadership skills through educational conferences on climate change and sustainability and to create Climate Action Plans for their own institutions. Selected teams will join together for a major internet-based youth conference at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 Summit in Paris.

"ASTC has been keenly interested in the Youth Climate Program since hearing about it", said Jen Kretser, Director of Programs at The Wild Center. "When they were asked to nominate programs for the new initiative they immediately considered us. To be one of the 19 programs, whittled down from 150, highlighted in the release is an incredible honor. The students of the Adirondacks, and the other regions that participate, are exceptional leaders in their schools. The energy and passion generated from the Summit is infectious and so full of hope. There is true belief, that while their generation did not create the problem, they will be the ones to solve it."

The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, founded in 2009, was the brainchild of Lake Placid High School student, Zach Berger and is held in November at The Wild Center. 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. The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit has inspired Summits in Finland and Vermont.

Students who participated over the past few years 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. Each school sends 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.



Tracey A. Legat