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National Wildlife Federation, Partners Receive $450,000 NOAA Grant to Promote Climate Resilience Education

NEW YORK — To advance the climate and resilience education program, Resilient Schools Consortium: Connecting Schools to Coastal Communities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is awarding a three-year $450,000 grant renewal to the National Wildlife Federation and its partners. Building on the previously funded Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC) Program (2016 - 2019), the National Wildlife Federation will work with 200 students and 10 teachers from eight New York City Department of Education public schools. Through the program, students will adopt and study a shoreline in Coney Island, increasing their awareness of future climate impacts and developing strategies for building climate resilience and equitable adaptation to sea level rise.

“Inspiring today’s youth to be tomorrow’s wildlife champions is crucial if we are serious about protecting and restoring the natural world. In order to do this, it is vital to instill a connection to the outdoors from an early age by promoting science-based learning and investing in environmental education” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Thanks to the support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Wildlife Federation and our partners will be able to provide hundreds of students in the New York City area with the tools and knowledge necessary to raise awareness of future climate impacts among their communities and become the leaders that our natural world needs.”

“In a world where extreme weather events, hurricanes and wildfires are ravaging communities and disproportionately threatening already vulnerable populations, programs like RiSC are urgently needed,” said Emily Fano, senior education manager and RiSC principal investigator for the National Wildlife Federation in New York City. “Climate education is critical to help future generations understand and adapt to a rapidly changing world. The National Wildlife Federation is grateful to NOAA for supporting efforts to create quality curricula and programs that can advance environmental literacy and lead to a healthier, more resilient and equitable society.”

Students will take field trips to local beaches with local residents and community partners to learn about the natural and built solutions being used or considered to protect New York City’s shoreline and communities. They will participate in dune plantings and community engagement events, and create public art installations. This will allow them to gain real-world knowledge and experience in climate adaptation techniques, while also granting them the opportunity to engage with members of their own community to increase awareness about climate impacts.

Dr. Lise Van Susteren, noted psychiatrist and expert on the psychological impacts of the climate crisis on young people, and the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay will serve as advisors to the program. Other partners supporting the program include the New York City Department of Education, New York Sea Grant, the Coney Island Beautification Project, the American Littoral Society and Knology.

“There is an urgent need for New York City students to become literate about climate change and extreme weather events, to communicate this information to others, and learn how to create resilient societies. This project will continue to fulfill that need,” said Greg Borman, director of science in the Department of STEM for the New York City Department of Education.

The Coney Island Beautification Project is very pleased to be partnering with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) on this program to engage the grassroots youth community with NWF about climate resilience,” said Pamela Pettyjohn, president and founder of the Coney Island Beautification Project. “Since Superstorm Sandy devastated the Coney Island community in 2012, the Coney Island Beautification Project has been encouraging community engagement, and promoting the environmental improvement and resiliency of Coney Island and surrounding areas. We will serve as connectors to local residents and NWF while helping to increase participation in decision-making around resiliency plans that affect our community.”

"The American Littoral Society is excited to be working with the National Wildlife Federation in providing valuable outdoor educational experiences to school kids across New York City. We hope this program will bring them closer to the coast that we love and advocate for,” said Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society.

"New York Sea Grant is excited to partner on the next phase of the Resilient Schools Consortium and connect schools, the community and science curricula together in a way that empowers the students and community partners to increase resilience to coastal hazards," said Dr. Katherine Bunting-Howarth, New York Sea Grant's associate director.

The National Wildlife Federation is working to provide younger generations with quality curricula and programs that advance climate literacy. The Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC™) program was first launched in 2017 in six New York City public schools by Brooklyn College, the National Wildlife Federation and partners with funding from NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Aside from the $450,000 NOAA grant, the program will also be receiving a $100,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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