The Environment for Youth program helps teens explore nature and recognize the social impacts of climate change

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As heat waves sweep the world this month, calls to deal with the effects of climate change have become increasingly urgent. But in addition to large-scale political efforts, bringing about lasting change often begins with individuals.

The Nature Conservancy’s Youth Environmental Thinkers program hopes to be part of that change. The program is a paid internship that helps 16-18 year olds explore Illinois’ natural environment as well as the social impacts of climate change.

“I developed this program with help and input from colleagues to help us find the balance between people and nature,” said Debra Williams, community engagement specialist at The Nature Conservancy. “And of course it’s not just about reaching out to teenage environmentalists, it’s about reaching out to teens who don’t even like nature, but the impact of the program allows for experiences where we We are involved on the environmental and social level.” Let’s see how to fight climate change.

Program intern Danielle Brogan said that although she was already interested in environmental concerns, she was amazed at what spending time in nature could do for her.

Brogan said: “I’ve always cared about the environment and wondered how I could help, but because of the outward appearance I didn’t know I would benefit as much.” “Every Thursday we went out with the stewardship team and were allowed to help out in the meadow, whether it was catching bugs or pulling weeds.”

But in addition to spending time with science, Brogan said spending time with other people and learning how to communicate about the natural world was valuable to him.

“What Ms. Williams taught me about interacting with others really helped me connect, learn and communicate with others in a respectful way,” Brogan said.

“I just believe young people need to get involved to learn more about themselves and others and then be educated about what climate change is – yes, environmental, but also that we connect with people, it’s often because we want to do work that relates to nature and the environment, but not necessarily to people’s climate and our relationship with each other,” Williams said. “How can I relate to someone who is right next to me, it was not necessarily something that was forbidden and so when you can see a rare bird and everyone can be excited, feel that the person with who you had the opportunity to connect… is also very rare and very valuable.


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