Youth Climate Program

The Wild Center's Youth Climate Program was born out of a major national climate conference held at the Center in 2008. The conference, Land of Opportunity: The American Response to Climate Change,  brought leaders from around the nation into a closed-door gathering to find a way that we could map a path to lower carbon emissions for the United States. The Conference attendees included John HoldrenFrances BeineckeMichael Levi and more than 150 others.  What this conference, and another Adirondack conference that followed, did not have, was student participants.

A few students were invited to watch the proceedings, and for one, Zach Berger, watching wasn't enough. He approached The Wild Center to see whether he could help organize a Youth Summit for students in the region, where students could come, learn, and develop their own action plans for their schools. The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit was hatched from that idea.

Each year the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit reaches more than 25,000 students represented by the 150 participants from 27 high schools, colleges and universities across the North Country. It has also reached across the Atlantic, as a model for a Finnish Youth Climate Summit. For the past five years the Summit has given students the tools to make changes in their own schools. The Summit has led to financial savings and shifts in mindsets across the Park.  Students who participated over the past few years returned to their schools implementing changes including creating school gardens to provide food for their cafeterias, expanding recycling and composting programs, and carbon audits for energy programs.

The Summit has grown to encompass a full-year program with outreach, educational and leadership opportunities for the students.

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Report from COP 21

Jen Kretser, Gina Fiorile and Stephanie Ratcliffe are currently at the heart of the climate change movement - the UN COP 21 talks in Paris. It’s been a whirlwind few days since world leaders from 156 countries descended to open the 2 week negotiation period – they’ve left and now the work begins for countries to come to an agreement to keep climate warming below 2 degrees Celsius. As part of this historic event there are 40,000 people, from around the world, in Paris to not only work on the negotiations, but also make their voices heard. 

The Wild Center and our partners are attending to represent youth. On Monday there was a successful session at the US Center and Gina did an outstanding job representing the United States. It is absolutely amazing to see different voices unite! 

The momentum continued with Our Time to Lead: Youth Engagement on Climate Change, a youth climate engagement and leadership event hosted by Universcience - the Paris Science Center and coordinated by the Association of Science and Technology Centers. Participating science centers from Finland, South Africa, India and Argentina joined the conversation live & online to COP21 participants. Youth delegates on site had a conversation on how they are working in their communities including interviews with Gina Fiorile and a local audience. In addition, a panel of climate scientists participated including Frank Niepold – Climate Education Coordinator for NOAA; Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Professor of Climatology and Environmental Sciences at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; and Owen Gaffney - Director of international media and strategy at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and writer and analyst working in global-change research.


Representatives from The Wild Center heading to Paris for COP21

World leaders will converge on Paris next week for a United Nations conference on climate change – and representatives from The Wild Center will be there, too, giving the North Country’s voice an international audience.

Jen Kretser, The Wild Center’s director of programs and lead organizer of its annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, and Gina Fiorile, an intern at the Tupper Lake science center who has been recognized by the White House for her commitment to environmental causes, will both participate in events at the U.N.’s 21st Conference of Parties, also known as COP21.

To learn more, read the press release below!

Adirondack Voices to Influence International Climate Talks

COP21 Events

The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit is going to COP21 and you're invited!

In Paris, the international community will aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. A number of events are taking place alonside the conference. The Wild Center and our Youth Summit model will be represented at two centered on youth engagement and climate change. As both will be livestreamed, you are welcome to join us.

Monday, November 30, 2015, at 7:15 a.m. EST (1:15 p.m. local time in Paris)

Gina Fiorile, a White House Champion of Change and UN Youth Delegate, will be speaking at an event hosted by the U.S. Center. She will be featured on a panel highlighting youth engagement with climate change. Through videos, Q&A's, and showcasing student efforts, the panel will discuss diverse youth initiatives and how young people are leaders on climate change across the world.

Thursday, December 3, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. EST (3:00 p.m. local time in Paris)

Jennifer Kretser, The Wild Center's Director of Programs, and Gina Fiorile, a White House Champion of Change and UN Youth Delegate, will speak at an event at Universcience, a Paris science museum. They will discuss The Wild Center's work with Youth Climate Summits as part of a broader discussion on youth engagement programs with climate change. Other speakers will include youth representing the Michigan Science Center (USA), Mundo Nuevo (Argentina), Heureka (Finland), the Durban Science Center (South Africa), and the NCSM (India). Experts on COP21 will finish the event by discussing the framework of the convention and synthesizing it for the audience.

Each event will appear on the link below as it begins.

Watch the Live Stream on

2015 Summitk

The 2015 Adirondack Youth Climate Summit was held on November 12th & 13th and reached over 200 students at 35 schools. The materials and details can be found here. Please use this page and our Facebook page as a way of keeping in touch.

AYCS 2015

Hear the thoughts and plans of Adirondack students at the 7th Adirondack Youth Climate Summit as they plan the future of their schools in ways to help mitigate climate change.



The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit has garnered attention, awards, and praise for both its model and its leaders. See a sampling of what that has been like.


Summits in Situk

Youth Climate Summits have been spreading across the country and around the world. Take a look into some of the places Summits have been held!



What has come out of the Youth Climate Summits is beyond anything that seemed possible eight years ago. Take a look at a few highlights of what Summit participants have done!