Discussing climate change can be a challenge for Homer High School junior Becky Jones.
“I feel like a lot of times you encounter people who don’t agree with you. It’s a sensitive topic, so it’s kind of discouraging when people don’t agree with you or don’t see that climate change is such a big problem, but then when you are around people with a similar mindset and want to make a change, that’s really inspiring,” she said.
Jones will get a chance to discuss climate change and environmentally focused school projects as one of more than 150 high school students and teachers from Central New York at Saturday’s Central New York Youth Climate Summit at Homer High School.
The event will feature guest speakers discussing issues related to climate change and have students discuss a project that they can implement in their own schools.
“I’m excited because it’s neat to meet students that have the same interests,” said Andrew Patterson, a junior and Environmental Club member.
For students in Homer High School’s Environmental Club, that plan includes creating an outdoor pavilion classroom and installing additional reusable water bottle filling stations, along with teaching students of other schools how to create their own projects.
The outdoor classroom will offer students a chance to learn outside, Jones said.
As for the water bottle filling stations, the club wants to have more added in a hallway near science classrooms, Patterson said.
“The water bottle fillers are a way for people to think about their plastic use and to use reusable water bottles and the outdoor classroom will allow students to enjoy being outside and motivate them to pay more attention to the environment and take better care of it,” Jones said.
The club previously raised more than $3,400 to install solar panels to power tablet recharging stations in the school’s library.
Funding the projects is undetermined as details are still being worked out, Environmental Club co-adviser and biology teacher Beth Krauss said.
Patterson said he wants to discuss changing weather patterns and how people will be able to adapt to it. “Is there a way we can change that or any of the damage we have done?” he asked.
The summit started three years ago after Homer High School earth science teacher and Environmental Club co-adviser Robert Nasiatka went to the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit in Tupper Lake and wanted to bring a climate summit to central New York, Krauss said.
It also fulfilled the goal of the New York State Master Teacher Program, a network for public school teachers which Krauss and Nasiatka are both part of, from giving back to the community, Krauss said.
Krauss hopes students will take advantage of Saturday’s summit.
“It’s a great way to network with other students and know that you’re not alone in this fight,” Krauss said.