"A platform to help out our environment, our community, and the world”
“A platform to help out our environment, our community, and the world,” is what Wicomico Middle School students from Mr. Pavlekovich's are calling the Youth Environmental Action Summit (YEAS), a brand new youth conference to be hosted this Friday, April 5th from 9AM-2PM at the Ward Museum. This summit will bring together 150 students from Wicomico, Worcester, and Somerset counties to learn from environmental professionals, to present their on their project proposals, and to compete for funding to implement their action projects right here in the community.
Action projects range from protecting habitats in and along the Wicomico River, to creating outdoor classrooms and gardens at elementary schools, to working with local businesses to reduce their distribution of single-use plastics. What's especially unique is that students have directed every aspect of these projects – from identifying the local issue and designing a solution, to creating videos to communicate their ideas to the judges. “Youth Voice is central to YEAS,” said Elise Trelegan, NOAA's B-WET Program Coordinator and co-director of the summit. “We're challenging the normalized notion that adults have the 'right' or 'best' solutions to complex environmental issues. We're asking our community to listen and support the innovative ideas of young people.”
In that spirit, Kallan Benson, a 15-year-old climate activist who co-directs a global climate change art initiative known as Parachutes for the Planet, will be the keynote speaker at the event. Her words will be interpreted by James M. Bennett high school student, Merland Orneus who has served as an integral member of the YEAS Steering Committee along with her peer Londyn Wiggins.
“It's thrilling to see young people engaged in their community in any way - and doubly so when it's young people learning to support, defend and improve our otherwise voiceless environment,” said Mayor Jake Day of Salisbury, MD. “The Youth Environmental Action Summit is critically empowering our young people to be leaders in changing the health of our river, our air, our ponds, and our Bay for the better.”
The Youth Environmental Action Summit welcomes members of the community to celebrate these young voices during Student Presentations from 9:50AM-12PM and during the Awards Ceremony from 1-2PM. A detailed schedule can be found at www.yeasummit.org. Support for the Youth Environmental Action Summit comes from Orsted (Skipjack Wind Farm), North American Association of Environmental Education, the City of Salisbury, the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, and Salisbury University.