Hey ACE readers!
Shreya and Daniela here from San Jose, CA. Last Saturday, we hosted our first “Green Teen Summit” at our school, Harker. And it was awesome.
We dreamt up an idea for this summit months ago and it was amazing to see our vision for the event come to fruition. About 70 attendees from all over the Bay Area came to the summit geared toward inspiring high school students to take action against climate change. Our keynote speaker was Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. Time Magazine called “the planet’s best green journalist” and the Boston Globe said in 2010 that he is “probably the country’s most important environmentalist.” We met Bill McKibben exactly a year ago at Powershift 2011 and we were blown away by his inspirational speech that we had to have him speak at our summit and inspire local students.
Mr. McKibben gave a stirring talk about the environmental movement and encouraged young people to be involved. After his talk, the attendees got the chance to listen to an ACE presentation by Ethan Burke. Naturally, the students were enthralled and ooh-ing and aah-ing throughout. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – ACE really hits a home run when it comes to grasping the attention of adolescents. We still remember watching our first ACE presentation as freshmen… we were completely blown away by the engaging and dynamic nature of the presentation with animation, music and most importantly – an optimistic take on climate change. ACE emphasizes that helping the environment is an opportunity, not a burdensome challenge. Winning that $5,500 grant from ACE three years ago was only the first of the many opportunities that ACE has provided us over the years.
After Ethan’s presentation, Kevin from ACE lead a leadership training to give students guidance and advice for taking on a project. Students were very receptive and picked up on some great organizational tips in terms of planning and the execution of a future project.
We decided to do something a little different for lunch. Growing up in the Silicon Valley, Bay Area kids know the importance of networking so we decided to make this process even easier for them. We had 15 “mentors” with various green experiences have lunch with attendees at separate tables. Students and mentors both got a chance to learn about what each other is doing and most importantly, the students now have contacts to reach out to if they want to pursue any sort of environmental project or internship.
After our enterprising lunch, students headed back to the auditorium to listen to Ethan Burke (Ethan was amazing… two separate presentations at one summit! Who does this?!) talk about his experiences on BioTour. He talked about living on a bus with other people and traveling to over 40 states and delivering presentations about the environment to hundreds of universities, high schools and gatherings.
We wrapped up the day with a special set of “skills trainings.” Rather than just have students hear amazing talks from people all day, we wanted to give them the opportunity to learn about more specified eco-friendly activities or careers with a sustainable focus whether it be green fashion, being politically green, learning how to compost and many more workshops.
Overall, it was an absolutely amazing event and we were so proud to see our plans come to life after months of hard work. I only wish I was a young freshman again, able to attend this summit and meet all these inspirational people. I hope at least one student caught the spark of passion that Daniela and I found three years ago after that ACE presentation. Even changing only one student’s perspective on sustainability would make us feel proud for hosting this summit.
Stay tuned for more updates from me and Daniela as we head off to college next year and begin the next phase of our involvement in the battle against climate change