This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending The Harker School's student organized Green Teen Summit. The purpose of this Green Teen Summit was to bring environmentally thinking teens from all high schools together to inspire, learn, and collaborate with one another.
The event kicked off with a Keynote address by Bill McKibben. Yes, that's right, BILL MCKIBBEN--the founder of 350.org! Bill McKibben is my idol and my hero and to be able to listen to him in person was surreal. Want to know what was even more incredible? I got to talk to Bill McKibben. He was so friendly and extremely approachable; he even offered to give me a tour of Middlebury College if our visits to Vermont ever coincided! His Keynote Speech addressed many important points, but one stood out to me specifically: In a perfect world, we kids would be able to focus on getting an education, on going to college, on finding a job, on making a family, and then worry about saving our planet. But unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world and as such, our generation cannot afford to wait for all of our plans and futures to come together. We must act now. We must make environmental activism a part of our present rather than a goal set in our distant future.
Then ACE (Alliance for Climate Education) gave us a teaser presentation of its free assemblies on climate change. The ACE presentation was particularly interesting because it really fused the idea of using video technology coupled with "teen-identifiable" language to connect with their audience very well. I think they have really discovered something special: an effective way to outreach to students about climate change. That makes me especially happy because we're all faced with the question of how to get our peers to also engage in climate sustainability. I think ACE has done a great job and I can't wait to see the assembly they bring to my school!
We then got to hear from Ethan Burke, the famous driver of the BioBus. (Read more about Ethan and his BioBus experience here!) The biggest thing I loved about Mr. Burke's presentation was his focus on optimism rather than pessimism. We hear so often about the dangers and consequences of what will happen if we do not do anything to save our planet. But how many times do we get to hear about what will happen if we do protect Earth? His approach was refreshing and inspiring and made me believe more than anything else that each of us have the ability to make a lasting impact, whether its on a international, national, or community basis. He also stressed that any kind of positive impact, small or big, is necessary and helpful.
We later broke into group sessions and learned more about planning and leadership skills. The two workshops I attended were run by Daniel Swayne of Citizen Engagement Lab and Mr. Sutton, Harker's very own AP Environmental Science teacher. Both presentations were helpful in figuring out what someone can do on an individual level.
The most impressive part about the summit was that it was completely planned by the students in Harker's environmental club BOSS; three seniors in particular spearheaded the event: Daniella L, Shreya I., and Alisha M. Mad props to these ladies for pulling together an event that attracted nearly 80 people! I entered the event not sure what to expect, not knowing anyone there, but I can happily say that I walked out of the event with a couple extra friends and some truly exciting ideas.
Still feeling the euphoria after meeting Bill McKibben,
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