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Buffalo State to Host Climate Summit

Buffalo State to Host Climate Summit

Posted: May 29, 2019

Buffalo State is hosting the third annual WNY Youth Climate Action Summit on Saturday, June 1, in the Science and Mathematics Complex.

Sponsored by the New York State Master Teacher Program at Buffalo State and the Western New York Youth Climate Action (WNYYCA) group, the summit will run from 9:00 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. The goal is to inspire youth to create positive, climate-centered changes in their local communities and beyond.

“We are all passionate about education, and about climate change,” said John Elliott, a science teacher at Sweet Home High School and organizer of the summit. “Climate change is an issue that will affect the entire planet, but especially the students that we teach each and every day, because they will become adults when the UN has predicted we reach a tipping point for climate action.”

This summit will bring together 130 youth from over 20 school districts across Western New York and beyond to investigate the multifaceted issues surrounding climate change. The youth, ranging in age from high school through college, will be learning, planning, and networking for the entire day, enjoying vegetarian meals, and working on action plans for their communities. In the summit’s third year, the number of partnerships has grown exponentially, and so have the options for workshops offered to the youth.

“Creating a summit for area youth to meet, learn, and grow around the issue of climate change seemed like a great way to utilize our talents as NYS Master Teachers,” Elliott said. “We are creating demonstrable changes throughout WNY by supporting and facilitating actions led by youth in their communities. It is these actions, and the fostering a new generation of involved and passionate youth, that are the driving factors for why we are having this summit.”

With 15 different workshops in total, participants may choose a pathway of topics that best informs their individual action plans. Topics range from the science of climate change, such as the technicalities of measuring the temperature impacts of elevated carbon dioxide on a sample of gas, to local activism, like strategies for effectively petitioning a local school board to invest in carbon neutral electrical systems. These workshops, along with keynote speakers, will inspire conversations with like-minded youth from other districts and organizations. They will have opportunities to hear updates on the action plans developed by previous attendees of the summit. All of these components combine to provide youth with an empowering experience that positions them to take positive actions in order to meaningfully impact their climate futures.

“Many youth do not have professional networks that extend beyond their schools,” Elliott said. “Our summits have built these. In our third year, we are seeing students and youth from different districts to team up on initiatives and in non-profits in a variety of ways. This cross-pollination is another key goal of our summit, an objective that we have taken care to nurture within the day itself, and over the past two years.”

The WNYYCA Summit will take place in the LEED-certified Science and Mathematics Complex, a showcase of the green principles of engineering and design. This exciting day will culminate with a dinner and harbor cruise offering a chance to form lasting bonds of friendships that will strengthen future actions.

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