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. The annual Summit, with particpants from area high schools, colleges and universities, now impacts schools with more than 25,000 students each year.

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

The Youth Summit concept went global during a cultural exchange between the Center and Heureka Science Center outside Helsinki, FInland. The Finns modeled their Summit on The Wild Center version, even down to thet-shirt design. The language was different, but the message was the same. 

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Watch What You Missedk

Speakers at the Summit provide the students with the information and tools they need to act upon their return. Teams also have the chance to make their own videos about their experience to share. 


2014 Summitk

Thanks to all who participated in the 2014 Adirondack Youth Climate Summit. Please use this and our Facebook page as a way of keeping in touch.

The Resilient Ones - A New Film

The Wild Center is featured in a new film from Mountain Lake PBS and Bright Blue EcoMedia.  The partners have teamed up for a moving film that looks at the predicted effects of climate change in the Adirondacks, and at the next generation of visionaries working to adjust to a changing planet. 

In the film, three high school students take viewers on a journey through the region to meet local leaders and innovators as they search for both short-term adaptive strategies to extreme weather and long-term solutions to reducing carbon emissions. The students, Cody Bary, Erin Weaver, and Gina Fioreli gather experience and information as they prepare for and host The Wild Center's 2013 Adirondack Youth Climate Summit. 

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 conducting carbon audits to provide baseline data for energy programs.  

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Finland Live 2013

The Finnish Summit was modeled on The Wild Center version, and so were the T-Shirts worn in Helsinki. The message was the same, the language was different.

In 2013 the Summit in Finland and in the Adirondacks happened on the same days, and students had the chance to connect live.

Message to Finland

This is a video message sent from Adirondack Summiteers to the 2013 Summit held at Heureka Science Center outside Helsinki, Finland. The Finnish Summit was modeled on the Adirondack Summit model through an exchange between The Wild Center and Heureka.

Youth Summit on the Road

A scene from the Lake Placid High School when the Lake Placid Green team brought a taste of the Summit to their school.

See PBS Clip of Adirondack Youth Action

Mountain Lake PBS recently aired a story about local students cutting costs for their schools by going green. Their inspiration? The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit!