What started in the Adirondacks has grown to an internationally-recognized program. Take a look at how the Youth Climate has grown since its inception in 2008.

  • 2008

    The Wild Center holds invitation-only national climate conference with science leaders from across the country, as well as some students. The conference left one student, Zach Berger, asking “why everyone [at the Summit] was so old.”

  • November 9-10, 2009

    First Adirondack Youth Climate Summit (AYCS) is held at The Wild Center.

  • 2011

    First Youth Climate Summit outside of the Adirondacks… in Finland.

  • December 3, 2014

    The White House Office of Science & Technology Policy highlighted the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit as one of nineteen key initiatives around the country. Read More.

  • February 2015

    Director of Climate Initiatives, Jen Kretser, and Gina Fiorile, AYCS alumni, are recognized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as “Champions of Change for Climate Education and Literacy.” Gina was recognized not only for her AYCS involvement, but also for inspiring and starting a Youth Climate Summit at the University of Vermont.

  • October 26-28, 2015

    Executive Director Stephanie Ratcliffe, along with Meadow Hackett and Erin Weaver, two AYCS student leaders, attended the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris. As part of the Forum, they led a workshop for international participants on Summits and how to start them in their home countries.

  • December 2015

    Gina Fiorile attended the United Nation’s COP 21 climate negotiations in Paris, France, where she served as a representative for The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program and presented Our Time to Lead: Youth Engagement on Climate Change as the opening presentation at the U.S. Center. Jen Kretser, Director of Climate Initiatives for the Wild Center, presented on a panel at COP 21 with “I Am Pro Snow,” an initiative of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.

  • Fall 2015

    The Youth Climate Summit model starts to take off, with new summits starting in Detroit, Seattle, Houston, and Burlington, VT.

  • 2016

    The Youth Climate Program receives a UL Innovative Education award, one of only five sites in North America selected.

  • January 20-22, 2017

    Youth Climate Summit  held in Sri Lanka. The Wild Center travels to Sri Lanka with a team of students and staff to assist with summit facilitation.

  • 2017

    The Wild Center is one of two locations awarded a three-year $494,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Environmental Literacy Grant Program. This award focused on increasing climate literacy in New York State through partnerships with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Delaware County, Brooklyn’s Kurt Hahn Expeditionary Learning School, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Office of Climate Change, among others. 

  • 2017

    The Youth Climate Summit model continues to grow with 17 new sites around the world.

  • 2018

    Jen Kretser, Gina Fiorile and Silas Swanson (2 youth climate alumni) participate in the Global Climate Action Summit in California, an event to convene leaders around the world to limit warming to 1.5C, the target in the Paris Climate Agreement.

  • 2019

    Work with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Community program expands. Youth partner with local governments in 5 communities throughout New York State after learning about the Climate Smart Community program at a Youth Climate summit presentation.

  • 2019

    The Youth Climate Program expands teacher programming with the first residential Summer Institute for Teachers held outside of Lake Placid.

  • February 9, 2019

    AYCS alum Gina Fiorile is recognized by the North American Association for Environmental Education’s 30 Under 30 program for her work starting the Vermont Youth Climate Summit at the University of Vermont.


  • October 12-15, 2021

    Director of Climate Initiatives Jen Kretser and the Jeanne Hutchins Youth Climate Coordinator Elodie Linck attend TEDx Countdown Summit in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Summit brings together 1,000 leaders as TED speakers share a blueprint for a beautiful net-zero future.

  • October 31, 2021 – November 12, 2021

    The Wild Center sends a ten-person delegation made up of Wild Center leadership and Youth Climate Program alums to Glasgow, Scotland for COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, as well as pre-COP26 events. The Wild Center’s delegates have a front-row seat as representatives from 197 countries seek solutions to mitigate ongoing effects of climate change.  Read more on our special Climate Connection page.