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Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program wins DEC award

TUPPER LAKE — The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program has been recognized by the state Department of Environmental Conservation as a winner of the 2019 New York Environmental Excellence Awards.

The Wild Center was named one of four innovation and sustainability leaders across the state at the 16th annual awards celebration, held on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos acknowledged the Wild Center’s outstanding commitment to environmental sustainability in calling the younger generation to take action on climate change. This work is the cornerstone of the Youth Climate Program, designed to convene, engage and empower young people on a local, regional and global scale to act on climate change. The far-reaching educational program has worked to create a climate literate and empowered generation through Youth Climate Summits and leadership opportunities.

The Wild Center says the summits have inspired more than 100 green teams/environmental clubs statewide, engaged thousands of students in New York school districts and created hundreds of youth-driven climate action plans to improve sustainability and resiliency in their schools and communities.

“This award recognizes our work with partners across New York state and validates our deep commitment to educating and empowering young people for action on climate change,” Stephanie Ratcliffe, executive director of the Wild Center, said in a press release. “Today’s youth are a major driving force in the climate change discussion, and we continue to be inspired by their passion and dedication. We are dedicated to continuing to provide the platform young people need to make real change and focus on a sustainable future. We thank New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos for recognizing the Wild Center’s efforts.”

Earlier this month, the Wild Center hosted its 11th annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, which attracted almost 200 students to participate in climate action workshops, learning from organizations, engineers, agencies, farmers and more. This summit has been adapted and replicated across the state including youth summits in western New York, the Finger Lakes, central New York, Catskills, New York City, Hudson Valley and the Capital District. At each location, a constellation of student leaders, teachers, schools, organizations, agencies and businesses work together to plan and organize youth climate summits, catalyzing action in schools and communities throughout the year. To date, the Wild Center’s Youth Climate Summit model has been replicated in over 38 communities globally, totaling 80 youth climate summits in the last 10 years.

Through its Youth Climate Program, the Wild Center encourages students to take steps towards reversing climate change. In an exhibition set to open June 2021, the Wild Center will be able to teach climate resiliency to its 100,000-plus yearly visitors. The exhibit titled “Solutions: Voices from the Frontlines of Climate Change” will present practical, regionally relevant climate solutions in an interactive way.