Thursday, September 20, 2012

Student Climate & Conservation Corps

In partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) premier training facility, the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC), GSA launched the Student Climate & Conservation Congress (Sc3) in 2009. Sc3 is GSA’s student arm and is open to 9th- through 12th-grade students who have demonstrated a commitment to environmental action. Selected Sc3 members, who are nominated by their schools, attend a five-day summer Congress held at NCTC in Shepherdstown, West Va. They enjoy a full program of study focused on the natural environment and 21st Century sustainability solutions.

The Congress includes substantial group discussions and lectures by world-renowned guests. Recent Sc3 speakers include: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., oceanographer Sylvia Earle, authors Douglas Brinkley and Barry Lopez, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, Nobel laureate Virginia Burkett, PhD, and innovators, such as futurist Mitchell Joachim and founder of the LEED building rating system Rob Watson, Rob Watson.

The Congress trains students in leadership, conservation and sustainable design as well as topics like habitat restoration, education and fundraising. Using the building, campus or community as a teaching tool, students work alongside faculty and staff on a range of hands-on projects with environmental professionals, including cataloguing flora and fauna, and demonstrations on the installation of green energy technologies. Each day also includes time for outdoor programs, walkabouts, river hikes, campfire stories and stargazing, thus fostering an appreciation of the natural world, which the students are working hard to preserve.

Student Fellows learn the scientific, economic, political and social consequences of environmental inaction; they also learn about available opportunities to help them make a difference. They make a year-long commitment to action that is tracked by Sc3 faculty after the program ends. Sc3 Fellows return home with a new set of tools and a greater understanding of the interrelation between human societies, economies and the natural environment, thus making them an even stronger force for sustainable change in their local communities.

The results have been inspirational. Sc3 graduates have continued on to coordinate campus-wide greening initiatives, including installing green roofs, launching composting programs, conducting campus energy audits, building wetlands and working with school faculty to introduce curriculum on global warming and environmental justice.

Source: Sustainable Solutions Green Schools: A 21st Century Imperative : Center for a Better Life

Emily Alix Fano is a consultant with the Green Schools Alliance. She has a Master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy from Tufts University and writes on green schools, biotechnology and the environment for national and international forums. A passionate environmentalist devoted to the goal of zero-waste schools, Fano is an active member of the District 3 Green Schools Group – a coalition of parents creating model green programs in New York City public schools. She has been recognized as a Changemaker by Planet Green. E: efano@greenschoolsalliance.org

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