The National Wildlife Federation

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Student Organizers Advocate for Climate Education in New York

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The National Wildlife Federation’s Climate and Resilience Education Task Force’s Youth Steering Committee is gearing up for an Earth Week of Action by advocating for the passage of two climate change education bills in the New York legislature. The Youth Steering Committee, comprised of seven New York City public high schoolers, will also be sharing a collection of resources to integrate climate justice education into New York schools’ curricula.

Earth Week of Action features three workshops, free and open to the public:

  • Memo of Support Monday (April 19), inviting individuals to write memos of support for the two bills on behalf of their organizations;
  • Toolkit Tuesday (April 20), where students and teachers alike can learn about the education resources the students have compiled in the toolkit;
  • Wake-up Call Wednesday (April 21), during which participants will learn about the two Senate bills and call their representatives, asking them to co-sponsor the bills.

“Climate education is critical if we want our future generations to understand, prepare for and adapt to this rapidly changing world,” said Emily Fano, senior education manager for the National Wildlife Federation. “The National Wildlife Federation is proud to support efforts to create quality curricula and programs that can advance environmental literacy and lead to a more resilient society.”

“It is crucial that the younger generations develop a connection to their planet,” said Youth Steering Committee member and high school senior, Sara Poon. “Currently, climate change education is not mandated and teachers are not provided with enough resources and support to teach about it, which is why we created the toolkit.”

“Climate change is a ubiquitous issue that requires multidisciplinary solutions,” said Youth Steering Committee member and high school senior Sasha Horvath. “It calls for contributions from all sectors of society, from scientists and policy makers, to artists and activists. Incorporating the topic of climate change into every high school class will empower students to create the changes they want to see and develop thoughtful, nuanced ideas in response to the climate crisis.”

The Youth Steering Committee is rallying their support behind two bills introduced by Senator Rachel May (S.596 and S.4781). If passed by New York’s legislature, these bills would lead to the inclusion of interdisciplinary climate change education across core subjects in New York’s public high school curricula.

Recognizing that policy alone will not be enough to implement climate education in our schools with the urgency the climate crisis necessitates, students are coupling policy advocacy – a top-down approach – with the creation of resources that can be used by students and teachers in schools right now – a bottom-up strategy. With this in mind, the Youth Steering Committee developed the Climate Education Resource Toolkit, a comprehensive compilation of easy to navigate resources, organized for K-12 teachers by both grade level and subjects, including earth science, history and policy, and civics, among others.

Current and future K-12 students represent the generations that will be most impacted by the climate crisis, and must be given the tools to stop it. With 1.1 million students, New York City is the largest and one of the most diverse school districts in the country, with 82.3% of the population being students of color and 73% being economically disadvantaged. Many New York City’s public-school students reside in communities that are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Climate education is necessary to help them become informed, active citizens, and provide them with the knowledge needed to adapt to and combat the climate crisis.

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