Well, judging from informal feedback from the many students I and others spoke to, the 3rd Annual WNY Youth Climate Action Summit, held yesterday at Buffalo State College, was an improvement in all regards. As organizers we strive to make an event that will keep the active local youth invigorated and that seems new. In our third year, this was a challenge – the same speakers and workshops just wouldn’t do anymore. We needed more.
We responded by keeping the same overall structure, three workshops interspersed with speakers, a tour, earth-friendly meals, and culminating with open-spaced meetings into an action plan session, with a capstone cruise on Miss Buffalo. While the structure was the same, we reached out to a wide range of new partners for our workshops and were able to offer 15 unique offerings throughout the day. This enabled the youth a greater opportunity to customize their learning and activities throughout the day towards their own interests and community needs.
Another exciting change, and one that has been quite homegrown, has been an increasing role for youth. Especially returning youth! By sharing what successful teams have done over the past two years there was a greater sense of concrete accomplishment surrounding the action planning portion than ever before.
This evolution, combined with a focus on high quality presenters gave great results. A big Thank-You to David Arquette from Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force, Dr. Stephen Vermette and Elsa Mengitsu from the Zero Hour Movement, for their inspiring messages. I think we can see that the presenters themselves found the summit valuable as they all stayed for nearly the duration of the long day.
I, personally, cannot wait to see what these youth accomplish in the coming months. Their energy inspires me. Despite being exhausted the next day, I have been working on this post, going through photos, and mentally evaluating the day. I’m guessing all who attended have done something similar.