Climate Change Conference empowers students

Sangeeta Kishore, Arts Associate

On Sunday, April 23, the Princeton Day School EnAct Club and the Princeton Day School Energy Climate Scholars held a Student Climate Change Conference at the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed in Pennington, NJ, in collaboration with the Princeton University Energy and Climate Scholars and the Watershed staff. Over eighty students attended from numerous different local high schools, including Princeton High School, the Lawrenceville School, the Hun School, and the Pennington School, all motivated by an interest in climate change and sustainability.

The conference began with a welcome from Jim Waltman, Director of the Watershed Association, and Head of School Paul Stellato from PDS. Then, an introduction to climate change presentation was given by Ryan Edwards, a Princeton University Energy and Climate Scholar, followed by a tour of the Watershed facilities led by Watershed staff. The tour related to three different concepts: stormwater, energy, and native habitat restoration. Attendees saw different sustainable innovations that have been implemented at the Watershed, such as rain gardens, green roof, geothermal energy, and more. Students also learned during the native habitat restoration tour about stewardship, or the planning and management of natural resources. The tour was very popular among attendees. Krista Caasi, a freshman at PDS who attended the conference, noted, “I really liked touring the facilities of the Watershed. It was really interesting to see how the architecture of the building played into sustainability.”

Following the tour, students attended two deep dive sessions of their choice. At the deep dive sessions, students learned in depth about how particular aspects of life that interest them are affected by climate change, as well as solutions to these issues caused by climate change. The topics for the deep dives included Climate Politics and Policy, Water, Technical Solutions for Climate Change, and Food and Agriculture, all presented by Princeton University Energy and Climate Scholars who conduct research on these subjects.

After each deep dive session, students discussed in small groups what they had learned so far and what their school has implemented regarding sustainability. In the final discussion, students discussed their main takeaways from the conference and what they hoped to achieve regarding climate change and sustainability.

The main goal of the conference was to empower students to take action regarding climate change and sustainability. In that sense, the conference was a tremendous success. Sophomore Oona Dimatteo described, “I really liked meeting new people at the conference who were all enthusiastic about climate change and sustainability. I also liked how we all left the conference with feeling motivated and wanting to take action.”

From talking to local politicians about these issues to consuming less red meat, the conference provided attendees with many solutions to combat climate change and promote sustainability and left them motivated to use these ideas to make a difference in their communities.