Teens Lead Environmental Education Programs for Youth
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Teens Lead Environmental Education Programs for Youth

The Climate Leaders Fellowship is itself an environmental education program for youth. The Climate Leaders Fellowship program teaches students about climate change and environmental sustainability and guides them in designing and launching a volunteer project in their own communities.

A variety of projects, including one to lead environmental education programs for youth made a big impact. The fellowship is offered as a collaboration between the Stanford University Deliberative Democracy Lab and the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

Read about Kushi and Anu’s impactful experience below!

How Kushi and Anu Set Up Their Project to Lead Environmental Education Programs for Youth

Kushi Setty and Anupama Basu
Age 16
Interlake High School
Bellevue, Washington

Our names are Anu and Kushi and we live in the Greater Seattle area in Washington state. We’re both 16-year-old sophomores at Interlake High School with a shared passion for environmental activism and community service. In our free time, we enjoy volunteering and visiting coffee shops together!

Last summer, we volunteered at the Salvation Army summer day camp where we discovered the joy of working with kids. When we learned about the opportunity to participate in the Climate Leaders Fellowship, it piqued our interest because growing up in Washington, the Evergreen state, we’ve been surrounded by greenery and nature our whole lives, creating a devotion for conservation.

Addressing Gaps in Climate Change Education

From our experience, there is a lack of climate change education in local school districts, leading to youth being unaware of how to protect our environment. This inspired us to contact an organization we are familiar with, the Salvation Army organization.

We pitched our initiative of leading environment workshops in their after school program, which had kids ages 4-12. The organization agreed and about 20 kids participated over the course of ten lessons.

Educating Youth Through Climate Workshops

We conducted a series of bi-weekly workshops. During these workshops, we:

  • Changed themes on a weekly basis to focus on different environmental topics.
  • Created engaging activities like origami, jeopardy, and other games, so the message and information resonated with the kids.
  • Suggested small changes in their own lifestyles, like recycling, reusing, and upcycling to decrease their own carbon footprints.
  • Encouraged them to discuss their takeaways with their families after each lesson, so we could make a greater impact on the community as a whole.

Climate Workshop Results 

To measure the students’ comprehension, before and after each workshop we asked them a question about the weekly topic. For example, deforestation in our community or the water cycle.

Then, we’d have them share or write down their answer depending on what activity we were doing. Overall, most kids showed an increase in learning at the end of the lesson, with more raising their hands to answer and having more detailed and accurate answers.

Our Takeaways from the Climate Leaders Fellowship

We are appreciative to have this opportunity that allowed our community to grow and strengthen their knowledge about the environment amidst the alarming trend of global warming. Furthermore, the Climate Leaders Fellowship allowed us as individuals to grow.

Suggested: Through this project, we both learned about the environment and realized that we could take actionable steps to mitigate the impacts of climate change locally.  By empowering kids with knowledge, we hope to help create a better, more sustainable tomorrow.

Read more success stories of Climate Leader Fellows making real impacts on their local community. 

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone

Kayla joined Rustic Pathways in 2020 as the Director of Special Projects. She has nearly a decade of experience in communications and marketing. At Rustic Pathways, Kayla is dedicated to helping high school students discover their passion for exploring the world through summer travel programs. She drives impactful initiatives to empower students through meaningful travel experiences worldwide. Based in San Jose, California, Kayla loves the outdoors, live music and travel.