Youth Steering Committee

Youth Steering Committee Mission

Establishing a strong, cohesive and accurate understanding of the climate crisis amongst NYC public school students so they can be effective advocates, empowered with the skills to implement policy, engage with local communities, and improve access to curricular resources.

NYC Climate Change Education Position Statement

Youth education is a critical part of combating climate change. Through education, students may better understand the issue, and as a result, be encouraged to make sustainable changes in behaviors and attitudes. Additionally, climate education for youth can foster the next generation of problem solvers and civically engaged citizens. As such, instituting a comprehensive climate change curriculum in our K-12 schools is an essential component of the world's response to climate change.

Despite this, New York City has not yet instituted comprehensive climate education policies. When educators have an interest in teaching about climate education, they are hindered by common core curriculum requirements that demand certain topics be prioritized in classrooms. They are also constrained by standardized testing requirements. Teachers are incentivized for their students to score well on these tests; therefore straying from the required curriculum in order to teach climate change would deviate from this goal. For these reasons, it is essential that climate change become a mandated part of the NYC DOE curriculum, and not just in science classrooms. Climate change must be interdisciplinary. If the effects of the climate crisis are taught in a variety of classes, students will learn to understand the many interconnections between climate and our society's economy, ecology, health and national security. They will understand concepts of justice, such as how and why low income communities, and communities of color, are unequally impacted by climate change, or the ways in which art can be used as a means for change.

A number of bills, in support of climate education, were introduced in the New York State Senate in 2019-20: S7341, S6837, and S6877. None of the bills passed in the 2019-20 legislative session and will likely be reintroduced by their sponsors with new bill numbers in 2021. Senate bill S7341 mandates a climate curriculum in public elementary and secondary schools. S6837 seeks to establish a climate change education grant program while S6877 asks the Commissioner of education to include climate education in high school. We will advocate for these policies through meetings with politicians, raising awareness on social media, and working with other youth-led climate organizations to have a more powerful voice.

As a committee of NYC public school students, we have experienced how inadequate climate change education is in our schools first hand, and believe that citywide climate education is essential. In fact, we only have to look across the Hudson River to confirm this. As of early June 2020, New Jersey will become the first state to incorporate climate change into its K-12 learning standards, across seven interdisciplinary areas. We see no reason why NYC schools can't become trailblazers too.

Committee Members

Amina

Amina is a rising sophomore at a high school in Manhattan. Her passions include studying philosophy, writing, and fighting for environmental justice. She is a summer fellow for Our Climate, a core member of the DOE’s Sustainability Youth Leadership Council, a member of the Climate and Resilience Education Task Force’s Youth Steering Committee, and a co-leader of her school’s environmental club. Amina also loves lobbying, of which she is a lobby lead with New York Youth Climate Leaders. During her free time Amina writes Op-Eds, as she is a part of New York Renews’ Media Strike Team and a mentee at Girls Write Now, and she has been published in multiple publications. This year Amina has also started an internship at Speaker Corey Johnson’s office, which has furthered her dedication to learning more about her community.

Elena

Elena is a rising junior at a high school in Manhattan. She is a proud environmentalist and vegetarian of four years. When she is not advocating for the environment, she enjoys painting and running in central park. Her interest in climate change education stems from her deep appreciation of nature and wildlife, and the belief that stewardship of nature can be fostered by proper climate education in schools. Currently, Elena is a member of her high school's environmental club, where they work towards sustainability and change in school and outside of it, and has also interned at the New York League of Conservation Voters.

Gabriela

Gabriela is a rising sophomore at a high school in Queens. Her hobbies include painting, baking and going on bike rides. She is currently involved in her schools student council and its principal's list. Also she is a member of the NYC youth leadership council and the Climate and Resilience Education Task Force’s Youth Steering Committee. One of her goals is to start an environmental club at her school to raise awareness about the deteriorating health of our earth. This summer Gabriela is interning for Sunrise NYC to further expand her connections and knowledge on the climate crisis and ways we as a community can help.

Sara

Sara is a rising senior at a high school in the Bronx. During her free time, she is drawing, painting, doing yoga and taking care of her animals. She is currently the secretary of her school’s League of Environmental and Animal Protection Club and the manager of the Animal Squad. Additionally, she is also a member of her school’s Green Team and the Climate and Resilience Education Task Force’s Youth Steering Committee. This summer, Sara is performing research on tree physiology at the Environmental Initiative of the Advanced Science Research Center.

Sasha

Sasha is a rising senior at a high school in Brooklyn. She enjoys research, tap dancing, and climate organizing. She is part of her school's Sustainability Club, which is dedicated to increasing recycling education, and volunteers in her school's hydroponic greenhouse. She has interned at the American Museum of Natural History, and volunteered at Curious Jane Science Camp for Girls. This summer, Sasha is an intern with NASA, doing research about the impact of COVID-19 on environmental sustainability.

Shayna

Shayna is a rising senior at a high school in Manhattan. She is currently involved in environmental work for the Sierra Club and an ecotourism company based in San Francisco. Her passion for climate activism has stemmed from campaigning with her dad's environmental nonprofit when she was younger.

Vic

Vic is a high school student in Manhattan. Their hobbies include listening to music, gaming, and advocating for various causes. Former organizer at their Social Awareness Club, Vic’s role was to raise money for both environmental and humanitarian causes, as well as increasing awareness across their school’s community. At a young age, Vic established a love for the environment and sustainability by learning about the ways humans impact the planet through palm oil deforestation. Since then, environmental protection has been the focus for many of Vic’s projects and fundraisers.