Western Mass Youth Climate Summit “Office Hours” Helps Develop Climate Leaders

The Western Mass Youth Climate Summit, held annually each fall for 8-12th graders in the region, has continued to organize monthly meetings through the school year with “Climate Office Hours” designed and facilitated by a youth leadership team of five high school students: Victoria Fogg, Leo Franceschi, Tessa Kawall, Ollie Perault, and Sadie Ross.

These evening sessions, held the second Monday of each month, offer their peers the chance to continue the conversation about specific climate-related issues, ask questions, find support for their Climate Action Plans, and discuss any related topics.

Supported by Hitchcock Center’s Education Director Colleen Kelley and Climate Education Coordinator for Mass Audubon’s Connecticut River Sanctuaries, Brittany Gutermuth, the sessions are low-key opportunities for students to continue to pursue climate education in a safe space and to explore topics that may not be covered in school curricula.

This year’s Climate Office Hours topics include:

The Youth Climate Summit leaders have become an incredible resource to other youth across of Massachusetts and Connecticut. They were instrumental in planning and organizing one of the only Virtual Climate Summits in Massachusetts during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. They presented to a group of adult climate leaders to advise them on how to run a climate summit for youth. Each student has become active in other climate groups around Massachusetts and Connecticut to report back on what kind of political and regional action is happening and to share ideas and network.

The culminating event of the year-long series of the Summit, discussions, and network-building will be a Solutions Expo Event where each team will be able to present progress on their Climate Action Plans. The students are planning how to make the showcase an entertaining and rewarding event. Having fun is an important part of building connections, lending natural fuel to the hard work of creating change.

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