Western Mass Youth Climate Summit

“I can make a change in my community to solve climate change, and not just sit around thinking I can’t do anything to help.” – Western Mass Climate Summit Participant

The Youth Climate Summit is a participant-driven educational conference for youth, designed to create an opportunity for learning, dialogue and action on climate change. Student participants attend Summit workshops, tours, and interactive sessions designed to provide a balance of factual information, tools for confidence building, and project stories for inspiration and hope. As a culminating project, student teams develop an action plan for their high school, to be implemented in the coming year with support form Summit leaders. Teams of high school students from all over the Connecticut River Valley are invited to attend the workshop on climate solutions and action.

The 2022 theme of this premiere climate event, engaging Western Mass youth at a time when youth leadership and empowerment is harnessing the world stage for change, was “Environmental Justice and Intersectionality” and was located at the Springfield Museums. Members of the Youth Climate Leadership Program explain: “we talk a lot about how the climate crisis is going to affect everyone and everything, and this is undeniably true. However, a side to this same story that we talk about less often is how the impacts of climate change do not affect everyone equally. This crisis is disproportionately impacting marginalized communities including women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, other abled individuals, and neighborhoods of lower socioeconomic status.

The YCLP recognizes that joining the fight against the climate crisis doesn’t just mean combating climate change. It also means fighting for social justice because this is first and foremost a human rights issue. Our planning team is committed to prioritizing Environmental Justice as our number one issue moving forward. This means we will be working to ensure that everyone on the frontline of these impacts in Western Massachusetts has a leading voice in this evolving conversation. We believe that in order to continue fighting for our right to a livable future we must advocate for the protection of not only our planet but also all of our people.”

The goals for the 2022 WMYCS included:

Now finishing its fifth year in 2022, the Summit continues to innovate and inspire youth and is also now designed and lead by a team of youth with the co-leadership of the Hitchcock Center’s Education Director Colleen Kelley, Hitchcock’s Environmental Educator Monya Relles, and Climate Education Coordinator with Mass Audubon’s Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries, Brittany Gutermuth.

Teams of high school students from all over the Connecticut River Valley are invited to attend the workshop on climate solutions and action.

Learn more at the Youth Climate Leadership Program website 

This work by the Youth Climate Leadership Program is sponsored by:

The Lorber Family; The Howard Family Foundation; Generation Ratify; Unpaved Trails For All; The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition; Sunrise Amherst
Sapling Foundation; The Lazy Explorer Photography; Youth Climate Action Now

Climate Action Planning and Results of 2021

Frontier Regional School
Angelina Egland & Cheryl Moreau | Sadie Ross

Event Video

Youth Climate Summit 2018 Video
Videographers: Jarret Smith & Michael Diaz from Northampton High School
Producer & editor: Eli Kramer

Climate Summit in the News

Young People Work to Stop Climate Change at Summit (2018)
Summit Gives Youth Look into Local Group’s Fight Against Climate Change (2017)

Youth Voices for the Environment

Do you care about nature and the environment? Are you a young person in our community who is working in your school, neighborhood, town, family, and beyond to guide and influence environmental issues?

Whatever it is that you are doing for the environment, we want to hear about it and share your voice and work with our community. Through our blog, e-newsletter, social media, and website the Hitchcock Center wants to amplify your work. We want to get the word out about the cool things you are doing! Learn more about Youth Voices for the Environment and submit your project today!

What was your favorite part of the Summit?

Each Climate Summit asks participants to complete and anonymous survey. Here’s what a few had to say:

“Developing an action plan.”

“I appreciated making the climate action plan and making realistic goals.”

“Being able to learn about climate change in so many different ways.”

“Learning about different schools doing environmental solutions.”

“I enjoyed getting to work with other students and discuss the issues that we are currently facing.”

“Our time to come up with a project for our solution.”

“All the presentations! I can’t chose my favorite one!”

“The climate action planning was very empowering. I also loved the vegan meals. They inspired me to reduce my own meat consumption.”

“Presentations by others, being educated, and making a plan to help my school community.”

Climate Summit photography by Phil Doyle and Jessica Schultz

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment