As heat waves sweep the world this month, calls to address the effects of climate change have become increasingly urgent. But in addition to large-scale policy efforts, making lasting change often begins with individuals.
The Nature Conservancy’s Youth Environmental Thinkers Program is hoping to be part of that change. The program is a paid internship that helps 16 to 18 year olds explore the natural environment of Illinois as well as the social impacts of climate change.
“I developed this program with the help and input of colleagues to help us address the balance of people and nature,” said Debra Williams, community engagement specialist at The Nature Conservancy. “And of course, it’s not just reaching out to teen environmentalists, it’s reaching out to teens who don’t even like some nature, but the program’s impact allows for experiences where we are environmentally and socially involved.” Let’s look at how to address climate change.
An intern with the program, Danielle Brogan, said that even though she was already interested in environmental concerns, she was amazed at what spending time in nature could do for her.
Brogan said, “I had always cared about the environment and wondered how I could help, but because of the outside aspect, I didn’t know I would enjoy it as much as I did.” “Every Thursday, we would go out with the stewardship team and we were allowed to help out on the prairie, whether it was catching insects or pulling weeds.”
But in addition to spending time with science, Brogan said that spending time with other people and learning to communicate about the natural world was valuable to him.
“What Ms Williams taught me about interacting with other people has helped me really connect and learn and communicate respectfully with others,” Brogan said.
“I just believe that young people need to be engaged to learn about themselves and others and then be informed about what climate change is – yes, environmentally, but also that we How we connect with people is often because we want to do work that is tied to nature and the environment, but not necessarily to people’s climate and how we relate to each other,” Williams said. “How do I relate to someone who is right next to me, it was not necessarily something that was championed. And so when one can see a rare bird and all can get excited, feeling that The person you have had the opportunity to connect with… is also very rare and very valuable.”