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Zoe Reflects on Inaugural Se CT Youth Climate Summit

New Alliance Director Zoe Wu Reflects on the Inaugural SE CT Youth Climate Summit, March 7.

The Southeastern CT Youth Climate Summit was hosted by Marine Science Magnet High School’s Environmental Club at Ocean Beach on March 7th, 2024. This climate summit turned out to be a hit in the community with 100 students in attendance from multiple high schools: Marine Science, Fitch High School, Norwich Tech, and Norwich Free Academy. 

     The event kicked off with a welcoming introduction by co-founders Cornelia Hatfield and Zoe Wu, who gave a brief history on the founding of the youth climate summit and some background information on issues of climate change. This was followed by (the youngest) State Representative Aundré Bumgardner introducing the keynote speaker Erica Cirino, journalist, author of Thicker Than Water, and PlasticPollutionCoalition staff. Afterward, students were able to attend two breakout sessions on a variety of topics from environmental justice, ecological restoration, pollution prevention, water quality monitoring, and political action.

All these breakout groups were led by student facilitators and amazing guest speakers like Representative Bumgardner, Sharon Lewis from the CT Coalition for Environmental Justice, Callie Scheetz from Project Oceanology, Kathleen Knight from CT DEEP, and Anthony Allen from Save the Sound. Local organizations like our very own The Alliance for the Mystic Watershed came during the exploratory lunch period for students to learn more about ways they could get involved. 

While the day turned out to be a great success, the planning of this event was full of nerve-wracking twists and turns. Starting as just an idea for a group of MSMHS 9th graders and their teacher advisor Bonnie Johnston, it quickly became real in their sophomore year, 2022, when Megan Granato (Sustainability and Resilience manager for the Town of Groton) came to the MSMHS environmental club asking what they wanted. With her help she introduced them to our very own Maggie Favretti who helped brainstorm and structure how the climate summit would work.

The biggest challenge of all came when it was time to gather up interested schools and students. It was tough to get the attention of schools and students especially since no one has ever done this before here. But eventually gaining the trust and support of a few schools we knew that the climate summit would be able to happen, and could become even bigger next year. 

After seeing the interest of all the students at the youth climate summit it filled all the students and adults in the room with hope for the future. The MSMHS Environmental Club hopes to continue hosting the Southeastern CT Youth Climate Summit for years to come with possibly different themes each year to continue to educate the youth about different local environmental issues. In addition to that, we hope that students who attended the climate summit continue working on the missions talked about during the breakout sessions, in order to make those projects a reality. To keep up to date with the newest information on the Southeastern CT Youth Climate Summit visit  

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