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Blog At the Museum

Durham’s First Youth Climate Summit

On Monday, February 21, we welcomed over a hundred people to the Museum for our first Youth Climate Summit. This full-day, conference-style event empowered teenagers from across North Carolina to take action in their schools and communities for a more sustainable future. High school students gathered to participate in sessions designed to get teens to think more deeply about climate change causes, risks, mitigation, and adaptation in our state.

A group of outstanding teen advisers planned the summit. Since September, they worked with the Museum to shape every aspect of this youth-led event. These young people decided to hear from other youth who have been active in their community, local business leaders and decision-makers, city planners, and climate experts and activists. Check out the full schedule to see the whole lineup.

This summit featured a variety of opportunities for pre-registered students to learn, network, and plan. Interactive exhibits and booths highlighted community partners, including Boomerang Bags, Don’t Waste Durham, and community science initiatives. Presenters at the Summit included Erica Neal from Farmer Food Share, author Sami Grover, UNC urban planning Dr. Danielle Spurlock, Crystal Dreisbach of Don’t Waste Durham, Clean Aire NC, and hosts of Operation Climate at Duke University. Sessions highlighted land use and environmental planning, sustainable agriculture, action and advocacy, waste reduction, and the changing definition of personal responsibility. Teams then applied what they learned and created their climate action plan: an actionable carbon reduction plan designed to decrease energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in ways salient to their local community.

Student groups who participated in similar summits at the Wild Center over the past few years returned to their schools to implement change. They created school gardens to provide food for their cafeterias, expanded recycling and composting programs, examined energy-saving opportunities by conducting carbon audits for their schools, and presented to school boards about their activities and financial savings.

Perhaps the best way to learn about this event is through their own words: check out this blog post full of fantastic pictures written by the group from Early College High School!

The Museum of Life and Science is proud to host this initiative by young people in Durham. The commitment and leadership of young people are valuable assets towards climate resilience. Communities, schools, local organizations, and governments are natural partners to implement these solutions in our backyards and work together towards a sustainable future.

This event was made possible with support from the Biogen Foundation, Triangle Community Foundation, and the Wild Center. THANK YOU SO MUCH to our sponsors!