Announcing Sustainability and Social Justice Career Webinar Themes for 2020-21

With the switch to virtual learning, Eden Hall’s K-12 office has been offering Sustainable Career Webinars since April. These events are meant to help young people better understand the variety of careers in the field. They also are meant to help students better identify the connections between social, economic, and environmental sustainability. Offered at a 6th grade vocabulary level, and open to any grade, we’ve been excited to see 3rd-12th graders and educators from a wide variety of schools on the calls so far. Our speakers have worked in various sectors, including: renewable energy, green buildings, air/water quality, conservation, community development, affordable housing, climate change, environmental education and more. All of which work towards achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Did you or your students miss some of our webinars this spring? You can check out all past career webinar recordings on our resources page, including links to related reading and tips for taking action from the speakers themselves.

This fall, we are excited to announce that the webinar series will continue with a monthly theme. These themes will highlight the connections between sustainability topics and social justice. In the same month, you will hear from climate scientists while also hearing from organizations that work with refugees and immigrants. Why? Because climate change is causing people to have to leave their homes and migrate all over the globe! What happens when that movement is met with xenophobia? Each month will be intersectional in nature, but will start with the history and current nature of a particular form of social identity-based oppression.

Without further ado, here are the themes for next year:

  • September – Climate Change and Ethnicity-Based Oppression
  • October – Food Systems and Racial Oppression
  • November/December – Clean Air and Water and Gender/Sexuality Oppression
  • January – Energy and Class Oppression
  • February – Community Development, Ability and Ageism
  • March – Ecology and Religious Oppression

Have an idea for a speaker you admire locally or nationally that work in any of these areas that you want to learn more from? Let us know! We can’t wait to have this conversation with a local and national pool of students, educators and speakers. We are currently busy scheduling virtual careers webinars for the whole school year, and are aiming for at least one per week. Keep a look out for our Career Webinar Schedule and do not forget to register in advance, please! In the meantime, we can’t wait for our next sustainable career webinar event this summer with the Global Sustainability Lead for Facebook on June 24th.

Post written by Rashmi Salamani and Kelly Henderson

About the author:

Hello Everyone! I am Rashmi Salamani and I am the newest member of the Eden Hall Campus K-12 Programs team. I have come all the way from India to dive deeper into the world of sustainability and help humans become a more responsible species for this planet.

A civil engineer by profession, my work experience with construction companies back in India is where I first began observing the hostile attitude of the sector towards environmental issues. I was surprised by this since it seemed to me that they are well-known facts that the built environment accounts for 40% of global energy use, 30% of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, high waste generation and the highest consumption of natural resources compared to other industries like agriculture and manufacturing. It is ironic that the construction sector with its Environmental Health and Safety policies is almost always inclined towards human health and safety and environmental health is conveniently ignored. This motivated me to delve deeper into concepts of sustainability in the built environment, leading me to Chatham’s Falk School.

With its aspirations for a self-sustaining and energy efficient campus, including solar and geothermal energy, an onsite wastewater treatment plant, and many other sustainable design features, the Falk School lives by “practice what you preach” motto and enables its students to think about and experience sustainability in many ways. I aim to learn and be able to execute projects that strengthen the relationship between people and the environment and inspire people to live in harmony with nature.

From facilitating field trips to now leading our office’s efforts with the sustainable career webinars, I am ecstatic to be working with the Eden Hall K-12 Program. It is my first time working with school-aged students, and I consider it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have particularly been fascinated by the work because it allows me to explore simple ways to help youth understand a complex topic like sustainability.

 

Intersection Between Soical Justice Issues and COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on the social injustices that exist in our systems and institutions. A national crisis like this tests the strength and resilience of our society’s systems, infrastructure, and leaders, but also exposes their weaknesses. During this pandemic, vulnerable populations are facing the compounding systemic effects of social injustice that continue to be embedded in our society’s structures, combined with a biased national and statewide response. The COVID-19 crisis is a teachable moment for the United States, highlighting the social injustices that exists in systems (from healthcare to education and beyond) and demanding that we do better in providing equitable and just circumstances for all the members of our communities.

Many states and cities in the United States have noticed an unequal racial distribution of COVID-19 cases and deaths1. Specifically, African Americans have experienced greater threat from COVID-19 relative to the total population in many locations across the United States2. This trend has largely been attributed to pre-existing social injustice in our nation’s health care system1. Race and income are often linked to a lack of access to health insurance and medical care, as lower income jobs tend not to offer health insurance1. Often health services in racially diverse and low-income communities have less access to resources1. To make matters worse, economic, food access and environmental justice disparities experienced by minoritized communities combined with discrimination in the healthcare system leads to an increase in chronic diseases. COVID-19 symptoms are more severe for people with pre-existing chromic disease like diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and heart disease2. As a result, we see now how some groups of people, including African Americans, are experiencing more severe effects from COVID-19 because of the circumstances created by socially unjust healthcare, economic, governance/planning, and food access systems.

Race and income have also affected the rates in which people encounter the disease. Social isolation is considered the strongest preventative measure of slowing the virus. Many jobs have transitioned to an online format, but those whose jobs are considered essential, including grocery store and public transit workers, are still at high risk of contracting the disease1. Recent data has revealed that, especially in urban locations, African Americans make up a large percentage of those employed in essential jobs putting African Americans more at risk of contracting COVID-191.

The U.S. has also been criticized for not taking social justice issues into consideration in its response to and evaluation of the COVID-19 crisis. While many counties and states themselves are tracking the demographic trends of the virus’s infection, the CDC was critiqued for not publishing data on the racial differences of COVID-19 cases in the United States1. Data on the racial and socio-economic trends of COVID-19 cases can be used to evaluate which groups are most vulnerable, distribute resources and aid, and improve strategies. Without collecting data and acknowledging how different groups are being affected, the nation cannot improve its response. The COVID-19 response has also been criticized for being impacted by pre-existing gender biases3. Many are being negatively affected by the decision to make sexual and reproductive health services a “non-essential,” business, even though they provide critical aid to girls and women3.

Beyond the immediate impacts of the disease, existing systemic inequities in education institutions are also being bared to the world. As software companies offer free services to schools that are switching to virtual learning, how to students without access to internet or devices at home take advantage of these new modes of learning? The digital divide impacts black, Latinx and low-income families the most, so how do we prevent this sudden switch to virtual learning from exacerbating existing inequities in schooling4.

For those that have not lost their jobs and who hold relative privilege in normal times, and in this time of crisis, it is important to take action. In Pittsburgh, here are some ways you can help bridge systemic inequities right now:

The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenging and trying time for the United States of America. As we all try to move forward and make the best of a universally challenging situation we look to our friends, families, and communities for strength. But, the lessons of this experience should not be forgotten. This experience reveals how much work we still have to do to fix broken systems and gives us the opportunity to create a more sustainable, resilient and fairer world moving forward. Looking for ways to be an advocate while stuck at home? Focus your reading list to learn more about systemic change and inequality and then talk to leaders of institutions within your personal spheres of influence.

If you are aware of additional opportunities to help through donations, advocacy or service, please email them to khenderson@chatham.edu and we will add them to the above list.

 

References:

  1. Evelyn, K. (2020, April 8). “It’s a racial justice issue”: Black Americans are dying in greater numbers from Covid-19. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/08/its-a-racial-justice-issue-black-americans-are-dying-in-greater-numbers-from-covid-19
  2. Aubrey, A., & Neel, J. (2020, April 8). Cdc hospital data point to racial disparity in covid-19 cases. NPR.Org. https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live- updates/2020/04/08/830030932/cdc-hospital-data-point-to-racial-disparity-in- covid-19-cases
  3. Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. (2020, April 10). Centring sexual and reproductive health and justice in the global COVID-19 response.https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-04-centring-sexual-reproductive-health-html
  4. Fishbane, L. and Tomer, A. (2020, March 20). As classes move online during COVID-19, what are disconnected students to do? Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/20/as-classes-move-online-during-covid-19-what-are-disconnected-students-to-do/

Why Project Based Learning and Sustainability are the Perfect Pair

When we talk about sustainability, we are really talking about transforming communities. When we are dealing with the big, wicked problems listed in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (No Poverty, Gender Equality, and Climate Action, just to name a few) we need all hands on deck. Then why does our schooling system effectively separate K-12 youth from their communities and our democracy for the first 18 years of our lives? Why don’t we have a global call to focus 100% of school time on learning about and solving community problems? And it’s not just schools that contribute to this exclusion of young budding activists. Many community based organizations have minimum age limits for membership or participation. If a 12-year-old is really passionate about affordable housing and ending gentrification in your community, why should you not let that passionate and conscientious digital native run your social media campaign to help get folks out to community meetings?

Have I convinced you that we should use the school day to transform our communities? Here at Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus K-12 Programs, we believe that Project Based Learning (PBL) is the pedagogy that allows for this transformational work in the classroom most effectively. According to a summary of existing PBL research, collected by the Buck Institute, PBL brings the following benefits to schools:

  • Deeper understanding of content and improved retention
  • Improved performance on standardized tests
  • Better problem-solving skills
  • Improved collaboration and conflict resolution skills
  • Increased student engagement and attendance
  • Increased job satisfaction for teachers

On top of these, PBL also allows students to drive their own learning, builds relationships between the school and the community, and is a perfect tool for practicing culturally sustaining teaching and working to close the opportunity gap.

Digging deeper into the seven essential elements of “Gold Standard PBL,” we can see how this pedagogy works so well with the concept of sustainability. Authentic, challenging, place-based problems are brought to the table. Student voice and choice determines where the project goes, while sustained inquiry, reflection and critique and revision guide the solutions and deliverables presented to be high-quality. Presenting solutions in front of a public audience of community members and stakeholders that care about the problem make student work meaningful, and show adults in the community that youth can contribute to some of the biggest problems we face.

Gold Standard PBL design elements from the Buck Institute

Feeling energized to try integrating sustainability with PBL to bring your practice to the next level? Join us for a “PBL Through the Lens of Sustainability” Workshop, join a community of educators committed to this work on Facebook (where you can also find sample units), or see some student-presented results of PBL at the annual Seeds of Change Conference. Already doing PBL in your classroom but focused on simulations or design challenges that don’t actually create products that are authentically useful outside the classroom context? Not all PBL is high quality and not all PBL contributes to community change efforts. We hope the network of peers that comes together at Eden Hall can help you get there.

 

 

Livestock Integration in Agriculture

When we think of a farm in our heads, we picture cows, chickens, and vegetables all growing together. While many family farms used to be run this way, conventional agriculture has introduced a monoculture approach to farming. Specialized machinery has made it more efficient to grow only a few crops in large quantities. Farmers increasingly concentrate on only livestock or produce. While this helps increase efficiency it also weakens the overall environment of the farm.

At Eden Hall, we approach agriculture very thoughtfully by combining new and traditional concepts. Intercropping and livestock integration are crucial to the health of our growing spaces here. Increased biodiversity, especially through our use of livestock, helps enrich our soil quality and decreases the impacts of pests. Currently, we have 7 chickens, 4 ducks, and 9 goats. Our chickens are our longest livestock residents and we continually research and experiment with how we can use them to enhance our growing abilities. Our chickens’ coop is mobile, and we move it every other week during the growing season so that the chickens can fertilize the soil and eat insects to prep the beds. We use the goats to help mediate invasive species in our forests.

This upcoming growing season will be our first opportunity to integrate the ducks into our agricultural practices. Farms can use ducks to manage pests. Orchards have used ducks to control snails that can damage the trees. We are also working to create a compost pile for the livestock manure that we will be able to add to our beds to increase the organic matter in the soil. Our approach to livestock integration is multi-beneficial, allowing us to harvest animal products as well as sustainably enhance our growing capabilities as a farm.

In the past, we incorporated the livestock into our farm and garden service activity, but as our awareness of the beneficial purposes of livestock has grown, we have decided that livestock integration is a subject so rich it deserves its own lesson plan. Therefore, our program has decided to create a new activity focused on livestock. During this activity, students will learn about the importance of livestock in sustainable agriculture and will make treats for them to supplement their regular diet. This hands-on experience will bring students face to face with animals they have only seen in pictures giving them a deeper understanding of where their food comes from.

Felicity Moffett

Introducing Our New Program Assistant Christopher Soares!

Hello! My name is Christopher Soares and I am the new K-12 Program Assistant. I am excited to separate the veils that shield people from how food systems work. My journey with food systems began while I was still an undergraduate student. Despite being on the path to go to medical school I found myself unsure of the decision. I felt that the medical field lacked a holistic approach to health and did not put enough weight on the topic of nutrition.

While previously engaged in education and community building my interests drove me to look for opportunities to seek a deeper understanding of the food system. I began working for an organic farm in Connecticut to get personal experience. There I was able to help cultivate nutritious local food. I aspire to become a full-time farmer in the future, especially with the number of farmers retiring versus the number of new farmers entering the field (no pun intended). These are concerning statistics regarding our nation’s ability to provide an equitable and healthy food system. Local farmers are often underappreciated and poorly compensated given the hard work and resources it takes to grow the nutritious food that fills people’s plates daily. For those without access to healthy food, some farmers have the generosity to donate what they produce to local food banks and soup kitchens and encourage other farmers to do the same. Eden Hall’s farm has a field space for crops that are specifically dedicated to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s Green Grocer truck.

Picture of the Connecticut farm I worked on

Dahlia grown on the organic farm

I am excited to share my previous experiences and passion for the food system with visiting schools and programs. If you feel that you need assistance introducing agricultural concepts combined with social justice issues in the classroom, please feel free to reach out to me. Furthermore, when you participate in our Farm and Garden Service opportunity at Eden Hall, prepare to fill the role as a farmhand and get your hands dirty!

P.S. Currently, I am developing a lesson plan on Mushroom/fungi production for 9-12 grade students – fungi are vital for our ecosystem! Also, I am planning our annual Seeds of Change conference that is set to take place on Tuesday, May 12th, 2020, at Eden Hall. Here is the link to learn more and register your team: https://www.chatham.edu/edenhall/k12/conference.cfm

Falk Lab School Achieves Zero Waste Packed Lunch

On October 21, 2019, a class of Falk School 5th graders visited Eden Hall as part of their exploration of renewable energy sources.  It was a beautiful sunny fall day, and we started with a tour of campus, which included their wastewater systems for capturing, filtering, and reusing water, the fish tanks in their aquaponics lab, and the year-round greenhouse where we enjoyed the fragrant earthy smells of the squashes, tomatoes, and herbs they were growing.

We had signed up for the Passive Solar Design Challenge. Each small group of students was provided various types of insulating and reflective materials (e.g., newspaper, aluminum foil, bubble wrap) and challenged with designing a system that would capture the sun’s energy. We tested the designs by measuring the temperature of a cup of water before and after a 30-second exposure to a heat lamp. Initially, most groups were more concerned with preventing heat loss by insulating the outtake hose, but after a couple of tries, they started focusing on how to maximize the capture of the radiant heat. In the end, every group was able to raise the temperature of the water, in some cases as much as 10 degrees F.

Then we had lunch. In the preliminary materials, Eden Hall sent a challenge: to see how close to making a zero-waste lunch could we get. They had plenty of suggestions such as bring reusable containers and cloth napkins. Over the years, Falk School has been working hard to reduce waste. Our primary level students have made large, laminated signs for the bins that collect recyclables, compost, and landfill items. Our middle schoolers created collages of all the materials to provide visual reminders of what should go in each bin at lunch. Classrooms have added to their job charts monitoring that things are done correctly at the end of lunch. So our 5th class was well versed in minimizing waste and primed to do well. In fact, we did very well, having generated the lowest amount of lunch waste in all of Eden Hall’s history!

Benoni Outerbridge

Zero-Waste Lunch 1-sheet_1117

Ending Food Waste -The Beauty behind “Ugly” Food

Hello everyone! I’m Chloe, an undergraduate student studying math and education who also works as an Educator and Project Support Coordinator on the Eden Hall K – 12 team. I have loved the opportunity that working for the K -12 program has given me to explore sustainability topics. Over the past year I have been able to both review and create lesson plans for the program on topics like soils, compost, geocaching, and solar thermal technologies. Most recently, I have been working on creating a new food waste and food products lesson plan to add to our field trip selection. We are very excited to be offering this dynamic and interactive lesson plan to future  students. Today I am writing to share with you  some of my excitement and experiences developing this lesson!

 

The Food Waste lesson has grade range options; K-3, 4-8, and 9-12, but my favorite lesson plan to design was the version for K – 3. I am studying to become a high school teacher, so I was going a little outside of my comfort zone at first, but I really enjoyed trying something new! I started off by doing some research on food waste and was reminded that there are many instances where perfectly edible food is thrown away or not sold at major grocery stores because it is deemed undesirable – either it is too small, too big, or bruised. After watching some documentaries about this issue I decided to create lesson based on it. Over all, the main goal of the lesson is designed to encourage students to recognize that food can look many different ways and inspires them to find ways to ensure that edible food isn’t wasted. The lesson begins by discussing food production and the hard work that is behind food by reading the book Before We Eat: From Farm to Table by Pat Brisson. This is a fantastic book and I highly recommend you check it out if you have little ones and want to start a discussion about the importance of food!

 

The rest of the lesson is focused on the idea of creating art that captures the beauty of the “funny food” that might look a little different from the food you would see at a typical grocery store. We frame this by discussing different images related to body image and beauty campaigns, specifically ones that highlight positive characteristics of each person in a beautiful way. While at first it might seem silly to students, we create art that highlights food that might otherwise be wasted in a similarly beautiful way. We hope that these discussions present the opportunity for students to consider what beauty truly is, and to understand beauty in a way that differs from what society teaches us.

 

After designing this lesson, I soon became aware of how closely this correlates to the thesis of a past MSUS student Jess Canose. In her thesis, Jess explores similar ideas of beauty and ugliness in food by completing an “ugly produce photography” project. This was just one more interesting piece that connects my lesson to the Chatham community, which we strive to do as we integrate place-based learning into our programming. Depending on the grade level of students, they all create a different form of art or product to share. Students in grades K-3 draw a picture of some unique food, while students in grades 4-8 draw their own advertisement. Students in high school are asked to brainstorm a tweet, that we will later tweet on their behalf, that educates people on food waste problems. Regardless of grade, the essential message of the lesson stays the same. How do we define beauty, and how can this influence our own food waste?

Interdisciplinary Education Using Carvey

By Felicity Moffett

The K-12 program at Eden Hall believes in the importance of interdisciplinary learning. This is why we are so excited to announce a new technology that we will be incorporating into our lesson plans. Inventable’s Carvey is a 3D carving tool that gives students hands-on experience with STEM technology. While the Carvey is capable of carving many materials we are planning on using wood. Wood acts as a sustainable option compared to plastic and gives students the satisfaction of being less wasteful while looking at the bigger picture of sustainability. We are currently incorporating Carvey into one of our garden lesson plans so that students have the opportunity to carve plant marking signs after deciding which plants they would like to add to our garden. Through Easle, a free online program, students can design their signs in advance, sign in on our computers, and then carve the signs using our machine. Both Carvey and Easle are easy to learn which make them the perfect introduction to 3D technology for students of any age. Our first print, a draft of what students will be doing, is shown below. Our staff is having fun using this technology and they are excited to share it with students!

 

Carvey in Action!

 

The finished product.

 

 

Rural Economic Development and K-12 Schools

 

Hello everyone! I’m Connor, the K-12 Social Justice Educator and Project Support Coordinator. I’m an MSUS student with interests in environmental justice and transitions to sustainability. I first became interested in environmental issues while studying photojournalism in undergrad after seeing a professor’s documentary work on communities impacted by unconventional natural gas development. I began to seek out similar stories to tell with my camera but wanted to learn more about environmental issues, their social impacts and what can be done for them. These questions led me to Chatham, where an internship gave me the opportunity to find the answers.

A photograph I took while freelancing for PublicSource of residents of Jeannette, PA at the natural gas well across the street from their home.

Reimagine! Beaver County is a grassroots community organization that gathered community members over the past couple of years and asked them what kind of development they would like to see in their communities. Attendees to their workshops were asked to think big, and they delivered cutting-edge ideas such as eco-industrial parks and solar electric car infrastructure, with a broad focus on developing energy, green chemistry/manufacturing, agriculture and recreation/tourism sectors. Part of my job with Reimagine is figuring out how Beaver County can begin to turn those ideas into reality with the resources currently available in the county. The first requirement is interest, and as we saw in Reimagine’s workshops, there’s a clear widespread desire for sustainable development in Beaver County towns like Aliquippa, Beaver Falls and Center Township. A need for jobs is also important, and is evidenced by other development in the area. A third critical element is the ability to create meaningful partnerships for achieving the shared community goals. For example, partnerships with higher education institutions or labor unions can help develop a workforce to meet the needs of proposed development, like eco-industrial parks.

A map from one of Reimagine! Beaver County’s visioning sessions.

The goal of all this effort is to create a green, diversified local economy and do so equitably. Some rural and semi-urban towns in Pennsylvania such as Connellsville and Monaca have begun developing around sustainable business models and enacting sustainability policies, proving big cities aren’t the only places that can be sustainable. On our new Rural Economic Development tab on our resources page, you can find key information on the subject such as the UN’s decisions and recommendations on the matter, guides on developing sustainable counties and towns, and tools to help you support local solar and agricultural businesses. For teachers and students, an all-grades explainer on hydraulic fracturing from Science Friday can be found, along with links mentioned in the explainer on classroom activities such as a board game centered on the concept of ecosystem services.

My hope is that these resources can be of use to students, teachers and lifelong learners in understanding the options and possibilities that are available to rural parts of the country. Although resource extraction and related industries have provided for Southwestern Pennsylvania and Appalachia for hundreds of years its social, environmental and health impacts have shown a need for transition. As I continue to study transitions toward sustainability at Chatham I’m available to mentor classes on Project Based Learning (PBL) units focused on rural economic development and sustainability. Topics can range from connecting communities to parks and trails, to developing cultural resources and art projects, to reconnecting communities to food systems. I look forward to learning with you!

Connor Mulvaney

 

Al Gore’s Climate Conference Attended by Three Members of the K-12 Team

Wow, what an amazing opportunity that we had and never shared! Time for a throwback post. Last October, three members of the K-12 Team attended a 3-day conference hosted by the Climate Reality Leadership Corps in order to gain more knowledge about climate change. The Climate Reality Leadership Project is an organization founded in response to the climate crisis that our currently world faces. Former Vice President Al Gore founded the Climate Reality Leadership Project. Over 1,400 people from Pittsburgh and all over the world convened for this event. The Climate Reality Leadership Project aims to train everyday citizens on how to best tackle climate change through becoming effective climate communicators.

Following opening remarks from the CEO of the Climate Reality Leadership Project, we heard Mayor Bill Peduto speak passionately about the city of Pittsburgh by outlining Pittsburgh’s resilient past and how the steel city is laying the foundation for a resilient future. Pittsburgh is a city that has reinvented itself by adapting to change and is continuously transforming to align with a greener, more sustainable world.

Former Vice President Al Gore lead multiple discussion panels on climate change. Attendees heard from world renowned scientists, like Dr. Michael E. Mann and Dr. Jennifer Francis, who both discussed cutting edge climate science.

The first panel held on the first day of the Conference, the social justice panel, was the most memorable. The climate and social justice panel helped set the tone for the whole conference by demonstrating climate change (or sustainability) is not just about being “green”. Attendees learned more about local environmental justice issues from three social justice leaders in Pittsburgh, including Fred Brown, who was the President and CEO of the Homewood Children’s Village at the time.

Conference attendees witnessed Al Gore’s famous slideshow presentation, you know, the one that was featured in “An Inconvenient Sequel.” In the presentation, Al Gore went over both the current and future issues surrounding global climate change. Some of us are familiar with rising tides, droughts, and increased forest fires as harsh realities of climate change, but did you know that significant precipitation events are also a result of anthropogenic climate change? We learned more about the deadly impacts of storms and climate change, including the devastating hurricanes that had just hit Puerto Rico, the Caribbean Islands, Houston, and Florida earlier this year.

The last few slides of Mr. Gore’s presentation ended on an uplifting note, inspiring attendees to continue the fight towards reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Humans across the globe have managed to exceed previous expectations regarding renewable energy generation, proving mitigating climate change is possible. Likewise, Al Gore’s presentation demonstrated that CO2 emissions have begun to stabilize, offering a window of opportunity for global citizens to reduce their carbon footprints and decrease overall greenhouse gas emissions.

One great aspect of the conference involved the breakout sessions available. Each attendee had the opportunity to learn more about climate change related issues in depth. For example, attendees could choose to view presentations on fossil fuel development and health, organizing communities for renewable energy, or climate change presentation tips.

By attending the conference, each attendee is responsible for 10 separate acts of leadership on fighting climate change. Acts of leadership include writing letters to newspaper editors, organizing climate action campaigns, and mimicking Al Gore through presenting slideshows on climate change. Each Conference attendee has access to Al Gore’s presentation slides at his/her disposal. Now is the time to have climate change conversations with your family, especially with the holidays approaching. Speak to your cousins, your aunt, or your uncle about why climate change is important to you, and how we have the tools to solve it.

The Climate Reality Leadership Conference was hosted at the David Lawrence Convention Center (a LEED Gold complex) and was sponsored by the Heinz Endowments. Importantly, each day of the conference had plant-based food options available, because of the environmental implications surrounding the consumption of meat. Additionally, the Climate Reality Conference stressed waste management, as seen through the numerous composting bins located throughout the event.

The K-12 Team is incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to learn more about climate change and interact with 1,400 other like-minded individuals. The K-12 Program will look to incorporate more climate change knowledge into our activities following this awesome event. Each member of the conference now has the tools to help solve climate change, so the next step involves educating others about the knowledge gained.

Members of Chatham University gathered and took a picture outside of the entrance to the Climate Reality Leadership Conference tables.

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