For eco-friendly Buffalonians, the last weekend of March will offer a creative breakthrough toward helping youth solve environmental and global issues. The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo Environmental Youth Summit is taking place on March 26 and 27 at Rich Products’ corporate headquarters. This event aims to encourage high school students to become leaders in caring about the environment.
Dave Bauer, the President of Sustainable Earth Solutions and trainer for the event, said that the Summit will welcome ten area high schools this year from a “diverse population of students”. Although registration for the Summit is currently closed, student groups who have already registered will work in teams of five to eight members to plan out solutions to environmental problems in their community.
Since 2006, the Summit has helped more than 150 students come up with plans to solve environmental issues. Among other issues, groups have helped remove environmentally invasive species from the Bailey Peninsula, design greenhouses and clean energy projects, and build outdoor classrooms. Bauer said that, compared with previous year, this year’s Summit has some specific plans to build up its goals.
“The depth of the leadership training is greater, advocacy training is now added and the entire project has us tracking the students for a period of one year to determine the efficacy of the project goal – to empower the next generation of environmental leaders in WNY,” Bauer said.
In the years that the Summit has been held, some area teachers and students have had positive things to say about their experiences in helping the environment.
“Our facilitators were wonderful. They walked the walk, and talked the talk. They got everyone involved and sharing. The students were empowered – more productive than a month of meetings,” a teacher at Mount Mercy Academy said.
“This Summit was really fun! I learned how many steps there are in coming up with one main idea in helping our environment. I thought it would be really cool if in the future the schools could come together and help one another out on their projects,” a student at Alden Senior High School said.
Bauer cited these and other testimonials as evidence that by helping out the environment via their work at the Summit, local high school students and their teachers have wanted to and still want to make a difference in their environment and learn creative thinking skills at the same time.
“[The testimonials] are powerful statements from the youth and teachers that this Summit catalyzes real change for the participants,” Bauer commented.
When asked what the Summit and the projects that this year’s students will create mean for the Buffalo community as a whole, Bauer was equally optimistic. For him, the schools’ interest in coming up with solutions to environmental problems means that the Summit could continue to have a lasting influence on not only today’s high school students, but tomorrow’s decision makers and leaders.
“When we, the ‘elders in the Village’, provide the tools and support for our youth to create needed changes in their world, the students prove to us that positive change does happen – and, through the training, this change is sustained over time,” Bauer said.
The projects that Summit students complete this year will be featured on the site for the Community Foundation Environmental Network this upcoming summer. If you would like to know more about the Summit, visit their website or contact Dave Bauer at 716.432.4294. To find out more about Sustainable Earth Solutions, visit their site.
The event is being sponsored by HSBC, First Niagara Bank Group, Higgins for Congress, Solar Liberty and RubberForm Recycled Products.
by Kim Sabshin – Buffalo Rising