By Alvina Chackungal
Nearly 500 middle school and high school students gathered on January 25th for the first ever Broward Youth Climate Summit (BYCS), where they were given a platform to promote environmental sustainability and support changes in legislation. Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) and Broward County’s Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division (EPCRD) partnered together for the summit to take place at the Global Events Center at First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Students were given the opportunity to create climate action plans for their schools, share their ideas with others and learn more about climate-related issues from various professionals. They also had the chance to network with other students, staff and climate science enthusiasts.
Broward County has been extremely successful in engaging the youth on climate change and sustainability. The EPCRD has created opportunities for hundreds of schools, focusing on urban and natural systems resiliency strategies. Broward County’s government and school board recognizes the threat climate change poses to South Florida, and know how crucial it is to get students involved by giving them the chance to participate and contribute.
The keynote speaker for the Youth Climate Summit was Delaney Reynolds, an author, explorer, advocate, educator and founder of the Sink or Swim Project. Many have described her as one of the leading voices for environmental change. During the event, she spoke to students about the growing climate crisis, the urgency for action and possible solutions focused on tackling the issues surrounding climate change. Her message sparked student engagement, active participation and a growing interest in the field.
Representing FIU, the Sea Level Solutions Center (SLSC) within the Institute of Water and Environment provided students with their take on the issues regarding sea level rising. Students were given insight into the current trends, initiatives and tools being used by the institution to gather information and data for future research proposals and projects. Students had the opportunity to learn how to use a refractometer, a tool designed to measure salinity, or salt levels, in floodwater to better rule out whether the water came from the ocean or elsewhere. Students also had a chance to view video footage of actual king tides taking place within their own neighboring communities, allowing them to see that these problems affect areas close to home.
The Youth Climate Summit was a success in getting students involved and interested in climate science. This kind of hands-on experience has proven to be a great way to introduce students to climate science and getting them interested in future projects, occupations and solutions. SLSC was able to share their mission and goals, while engaging a newer and younger generation by making them aware of sea level rise in South Florida.
To learn more about the initiatives of the Sea Level Solutions Center, please visit their website.