Guest Blog Post by Larrea Cottingham, Climate Education VISTA, City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program
Climate action and climate education is perhaps more important than ever before, and Flagstaff is leading the leading the way. From the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan to the Student Climate Action Challenge, students and other residents across our community are making their voices heard and taking action to create solutions and build resilience in the face of climate change.
As the Climate Education VISTA with the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section, I have been working since August to engage students in climate action through the Student Climate Action Challenge. To aid students in developing ambitious and effective projects, I created the Student Climate Action Toolkit: a planning guide for taking climate action. This guide takes students though a step-by-step project development process, from choosing a project, to putting it into action. Each step includes an activity for students to complete, such as identifying how their school, community, or environment may be impacted by climate change, creating a SMART goal for their project, and gathering baseline data.
Susan Brown, the 7th grade science teacher at Northland Preparatory Academy (NPA) and 2018 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Science Education, decided to use the Toolkit as an in-class activity during her climate change unit. I was pleased to have the opportunity to work with Ms. Brown's students in class as they created solutions to climate change using the Toolkit. It is always so exciting seeing students in action, working on something they are really excited about. Working with the students in class was not only great fun, but it was incredibly valuable. I was able to take their feedback and make improvements on the Toolkit for students who may use it in the future. Thank you NPA 7th graders and Ms. Brown!
In addition to climate action at NPA, there are approximately 10 student Climate Action Teams participating in the Student Climate Action Challenge from schools across Flagstaff. Students participating in the Challenge range from 4th grade to high school, and are working on a variety of projects, including creating school gardens, decreasing school waste by improving recycling and composting, and peer-education. We very are excited to learn more about these student projects at the Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit this spring!
Students are setting a great example for us all to take climate action, too! You can start by providing your input for the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, so we can create a plan the best represents the values and priorities of our community. We held the first of several open house events on January 24th; if you missed it or want to learn more about the Climate Plan, take a look at the video. For more opportunities to get involved, visit www.flagstaff.az.gov/climateplan.