Felix Neck offers second annual Youth Climate Summit

Beach at the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. — Caroline Brehman

High school students, educators, and Mass Audubon staff will gather on Wednesday, May 27, and Thursday, May 28, for a Youth Climate Summit. This year’s summit will be via a virtual platform, according to a press release from Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Youth Climate Summit — one in a series taking place at Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries across the commonwealth — is student-organized and -driven, designed to create opportunities for learning, conversations, empowerment, and youth-led action on climate change in participating schools and their communities.

Last year’s summit was a day packed full of climate action, education, and discussion. This year, even with COVID-19 limitations, students felt it was important to stress climate action, posing the question, “What does climate action look like in our current circumstances?” Owen Favreau, graduating senior at MVRHS and member of the climate leadership team, shared in the release, ”To me, discussing climate change is no longer about raising awareness, it’s about figuring out ways to take action. I am participating in these climate summits to work toward real solutions regarding climate change.”

Though not able to join in person, students wanted to be sure the summit was still engaging and that the sessions limited screen time, since students are already feeling a lot of screen fatigue with their online classes. The first day of the virtual summit will consist of a keynote address from Tatiana Schlossberg, author of “Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have,” and breakout sessions on transportation, food, lifestyle, and other climate topics of the students’ choosing. Students will then gather on day two to construct their climate action plans to implement in their own community and beyond, and end with an opportunity to share plans and inspire one another to keep pushing forward with climate in mind. The event will be open to Island students in grades 5 to 12.

“Without putting too much pressure on today’s youth to be the only solution, I am continuously inspired and in awe of the students’ drive and passion to be involved in climate action,” Felix Neck’s education manager, Josey Kirkland, explained in the release. “They are being real role models in our community, and I am honored to work with them in this capacity.”

Mass Audubon, the state’s largest nature conservation nonprofit, recognizes climate change as the 21st century’s greatest environmental challenge, the release says. The global threat also presents many opportunities for individuals of all ages, groups, and communities to get involved in meaningful ways. To learn more about the Youth Climate Summits, other action-oriented gatherings and programs, and Mass Audubon’s commitment to confronting climate change, visit massaudubon.org/climate.