Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Students come together for Youth Climate Summit

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Students come together for Youth Climate Summit
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It may be a touchy subject, but students are taking on the issue of climate change head on. Students from 28 schools are meeting at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake to come up with ways they can make a difference in their own communities. Our Barry Wygel stopped by the Youth Climate Summit to see what they have in the works.

TUPPER LAKE, N.Y. -- It's a place where actual change is happening.

"We have students and administrators and teachers all come together to create climate action plans for their schools," said Zach Berger, the summit's founder.

Zach Berger came up with the idea for the Youth Climate Summit five years ago when he attended an adult summit. He thought that students' voices weren't being heard, so he contacted The Wild Center and the Youth Summit was born.

"We're non-authoritative. I don't tell schools what to do, they come up with their own ideas based on what they heard here and the resources we provided them then they go back and make change happen," said Jen Kretser, program director at The Wild Center.

These ideas can range from planting a school garden or unplugging electronics at night. They come from workshops and lectures the students attend on the first day of the summit. The issues associated with climate change are a hot bed political issue. Many elected officials deny the existence of climate change. Students at the summit say they are on a mission to change that.

"Well, obviously, we all believe it here, but here we have the facts. So if somebody asks us, like our grandparents, 'what are you talking about?', we can say no, listen, this is the carbon emissions, this is what's safe, we are out of the safe zones," said Maggie Rose-McCandlish, who attended the summit.

With the summit on its fourth year, the effects have already been seen. Rose-McCandlish attended the summit last year and came up with a community recycling day.

"We had a day in the community, we called it 'Earth Day Extravaganza' where we had people bring in their technology and recycle it there. It was really cool, because that is something people just throw away," said Rose-McCandlish.

Organizers say once the students leave the summit and organize their projects, more than 25,000 students will come together to take part in them.

Students who attended the summit say they think schools in the Adirondacks tend to be more environmentally conscious due to their location, but they are working to bring their message to a broader audience.

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