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Rural youth to help strengthen climate-related readiness

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded three partner organizations nearly $450,000 to fund a program that will help rural youth strengthen their communities’ readiness for climate-related challenges.

The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the Alliance for Climate Education received the funding in support of their project Empowering Rural Youth for Community Climate Resilience in New York State.

The three-year collaboration will support leadership opportunities for rural youth as they work with community partners and municipalities on climate resilience best practices and planning. The project also will increase awareness of the state’s Climate Smart Communities program and ongoing NOAA climate research, officials said.

“Climate change is here and we are seeing this manifested in degradation to Finger Lakes water quality from warmer surface water temperatures, more extreme precipitation events and higher frequencies of harmful algal blooms,” said FLI Director Lisa Cleckner.

Project partners are building on the success of the youth climate summit movement, which began in 2019 at the Wild Center to empower students to take climate action. The positive impact of the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit inspired the inaugural Finger Lakes Youth Climate Summit in 2017. The Finger Lakes Youth Climate Summit has served more than 350 high school students from the region since its creation with funding from sponsors Siemens and the Wyckoff Family Foundation.

“Young people are extremely motivated to be part of the solution to climate change,” said FLI’s Associate Director for Educational Programs Nadia Harvieux. “We are very excited about the NOAA-supported opportunities these new initiatives will provide youth in the Finger Lakes region, Adirondacks and beyond.”

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