The Village of Saranac Lake and the Village of Homer achieved bronze level certification in the NYS Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program, as announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on September 24, 2020, during New York State Climate Week. The youth leaders spearheading the efforts for climate action and resilience within these two communities were inspired in part by The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program and its annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit. Since 2008, this program has brought together 180+ students from 30+ New York State schools to increase their climate literacy and leadership skills.
The NYS Climate Smart Communities Program provides guidance and technical support to local governments to take locally-driven climate action. In order to achieve the bronze level of certification, a specific number of planned and mandatory actions must be completed to receive the required 120 points and four pledge elements. The Village of Saranac Lake is the first to complete these requirements and achieve bronze status within New York’s North Country.
“By receiving bronze certification, Saranac Lake has shown leadership in raising public awareness of climate change and lowering our community’s carbon footprint,” said Cedar Young, a youth leader in the Village of Saranac Lake.
Tucker Jakobe, another youth leader in the Village of Saranac Lake added, “To me, earning bronze certification is an important step from which Saranac Lake can establish a comprehensive plan for achieving net-zero emissions.”
Over the past two years, youth leaders in Homer and Saranac Lake have effectively partnered with local leaders and decision-makers in their home communities to take action on climate change, providing valuable contributions, conducting climate-related assessments, and delivering solution-focused recommendations.
“Climate change is a global crisis, but it has local solutions, and both youth leaders and local governments are essential to ensuring a more sustainable today and tomorrow,” said Andrew Fagerheim, a youth leader in the Village of Homer. “I am proud of the Village of Homer’s designation as a bronze certified community because it validates our model of youth as partners, catalysts, and leaders in climate work with their local governments. My work as a youth leader is directly the result of The Wild Center’s effort to convene, connect, engage, and empower young people. I am deeply grateful for the impact they have made on my life and on youth empowerment around the world.”
During a press conference held in the Village of Saranac Lake, NYS DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the latest round of communities to achieve certification as part of the Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program, which supports municipal efforts to meet the economic, social, and environmental challenges posed by climate change. In total, 13 communities in the state received CSC certification.
Along with the announcement, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation shared a video produced by The Wild Center in partnership with the DEC’s Office of Climate Change and NOAA’s Climate Program Office. The video features the efforts of youth-led climate change adaptation and resilience planning in Homer and Saranac Lake. It also highlights The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Summits as providing these young leaders with sustainable solutions and actions they can take back to their communities, empowering them with important tools and leadership skills to collaborate with local leaders. The video, titled “Youth Catalyze Community Climate Action,” is available here: https://www.wildcenter.org/climatesmart/.
In place of this year’s Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program is unveiling a new, virtual event series entitled Youth Have Power: Plugging Into Climate Action. The program is a flexible, 3-month menu of evening and weekend sessions for high school students to learn about climate change, decide how to take climate action, and connect with other youth climate leaders. Students who attend five sessions over the three months and complete one action challenge will have officially completed the program and will earn a prize. The virtual event kicks off on September 29 with a Speaker Series featuring Dr. Elizabeth Bagley from Project Drawdown and John Paul Mejia from Sunrise Miami. Registration and additional information can be found here: https://www.wildcenter.org/youth-have-power/.
The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit is a part of The Wild Center’s award-winning Youth Climate Program, whose primary objective is to create a climate literate and empowered generation. The Youth Climate Program is funded, in part, through the Environmental Literacy Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.
About The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program
The Wild Center invites visitors to discover the story of the Adirondacks, and to explore new ways that people and nature can thrive in the same place. Located in Tupper Lake, NY the center uses science-based experiences, exhibits and program to open new ways to look into the relationship that people have with nature and to promote environmental best practices. Based out of The Wild Center, the Youth Climate Program works globally to convene and empower young people to take action on climate change through Youth Climate Summits.