Always trendsetters, Huntington High School students are once again at the forefront. Science teacher Nicole Cooper and a group of nine teenagers passionate about the environment participated on a planning committee organizing the first ever Suffolk County Youth Climate Summit.
The Huntington contingent joined county legislators, assorted other politicians, professors, non-profit leaders, administrators and other students at Centereach High School to “create something great,” Ms. Cooper said.
The Suffolk County Youth Climate Summit will coincide with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April 2020. “The goal is to unite and mobilize high school and college students from around Long Island to take a stand for the planet,” Ms. Cooper said. “Those who attend will learn about what they can do to help combat climate change.”
The event will place an emphasis on individualism and how students can use their passions to help the environment in a multitude of different ways. Students will have opportunities to work together to create “climate action plans.” County officials and legislators are expected to attend and listen to the students’ plans while interacting with them on a personal level.
“The goal is that together the legislators and students will design techniques for Suffolk County to minimize its carbon footprint,” Ms. Cooper said.
The group from Huntington included Lucas Kelly, Marissa Cribar, Lily Stein, Nicholas Rowley, Brooke Biernacki, Vianca Hinds, Natalie Furman, Karly Matthews, Shyann Maragh, Zadie Lauer and Bryce Vitulli.
“I’m ecstatic to have a group of incredible students who want to be at the center of the planning committee,” Ms. Cooper said. “We have one planet and unless we do something major to change our behaviors and attitude concerning our resource consumption now, we will continue to see a decline in the quality of habitats, air and water. The quantity of species will continue to decline while hurricanes, floods, droughts and wildfires will become more prevalent and intense. If each person does not make small changes now, our children and grandchildren will suffer.”
The event being planned will have multiple environmentalists on hand, speakers and workshops to educate students and the public about the climate crisis. Ms. Cooper chose students from her AP Environmental Science classes as well as other known advocates to participate on the planning committee.
Among those attending the session were Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman, Suffolk Chief Sustainability Officer Frances Reid of Suffolk County, Stony Brook University Professor Katherine Aubrecht and students from four other high schools. The teenagers are planning what they believe will be a fun, engaging and educational event.
“It was inspiring to see so many other students take action and help plan for this amazing event,” Mr. Rowley said. “The time for fighting against climate change is now and these students know that.”
The Huntington students are all sold on the merits of next April’s youth summit and intend to keep working hard to make it a success.
“Margaret Mead said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,’” Ms. Cooper said. “That is exactly what this Youth Climate Summit is going to be: a mobilization of the youth of our Island with a goal of engaging the people who have the ability to make large policy changes. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.”