State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains: Summer 2022 Students Share Their Experiences

This past summer, we held the second cohort of students to our Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains summer program. This pre-college program is held in partnership with Putney Student Travel and is designed to mobilize action, drive impact, and effect change in response to our warming planet. Students have the opportunity to engage with Columbia Climate School faculty and staff to learn about cutting-edge research and innovations in action while meeting, collaborating, and building partnerships with like-minded peers to tap into their collective strengths for action.

The Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains provides transformative experiences by providing a breadth of climate and sustainability information and solution-based tools for passionate and activated students to drive holistic climate action. Below, three students of the ‘Green Mountains’ 2022 program share the knowledge they gained, the skills they developed and their personal experiences in our sustainability- and climate-focused program last summer.

Amanda is a senior from Millburn, New Jersey.

Mary is a senior from Seattle, Washington.

Suler is a senior from Scarsdale, New York.

What inspired you to apply for the Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains Program?

students and former governor
Suler (second from left) and other students of the ‘Green Mountains’ program had the opportunity to meet Peter Shumlin, former governor of Vermont and co-director of Putney Student Travel.

Amanda: As I was searching for a meaningful way to spend some of my summer, I came across the Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains Program and immediately knew it was a perfect fit for me. With my combined passion for environmental action and my desire to further expand my knowledge and commitment to the pressing issue of climate change, I knew I had to apply. Although I am not usually the type who would willingly place myself in a rural environment, I knew that spending two weeks separated in the beautiful land that is Castleton would be the perfect opportunity to learn about the environment itself. Additionally, since I saw that this program was rather new, I thought that it be even more impactful to be a part of the start of something so grand.

Mary: I heard about the program through my own research. I knew climate change was an interest of mine so I looked at camps relating to that and the Columbia Climate Change program seemed the most interesting to me.

Suler: My inspiration for applying for the Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains Program was my passion for advancing environmental justice and clean energy efforts. Although I had gained knowledge from learning on my own, this summer I wanted to spend quality time focused on the topic during a program that would be both relaxing and thought-provoking.

What was your favorite part or the most influential component of the program?

young woman reading a book while sitting on grass
Mary enjoys the natural beauty of Vermont while reading a book with her friends.

Amanda: From my whole two-week experience, I would have to say my favorite part was how we created and presented our own climate action plans at the end of the program. By doing so, it made me feel as though I could truly make some impact, even if it was only in my own community, since climate change may often seem like an unreachable obstacle that we as individuals have no power to ameliorate. I also really enjoyed all the different speakers from the Columbia University faculty who we had the privilege to hear from. Each speaker covered a different aspect of climate change, some of which I previously knew little about, such as environmental law and the economic aspects connected with climate change.

Mary: My favorite part of the camp was the variety of speakers we had. All the lecturers came from different educational backgrounds and areas of work which showed how environmental justice could be applied to a really wide range of career paths.

Suler: The most influential component of the program was the community; being surrounded by peers my age who were equally curious and motivated to combat environmental issues created a space where I felt encouraged. Further, I enjoyed and appreciated how open everyone was to learn about new strategies, ideas, and perspectives. I could “speak my mind” and so could others! It was refreshing to participate in productive conversations that were ungraded, natural, and valuable — something I find lacking in traditional high school curriculums.

How has the program equipped you with the knowledge, skills, and/or tools to address climate change now or in the future?

amanda and peter shumlin
Amanda smiles alongside Peter Shumlin, former governor of Vermont and co-director of Putney Student Travel.

Amanda: From all the lectures, activities, and overall experience at this program, I definitely feel much more knowledgeable on climate change as a whole, ranging from how to have difficult climate conversations with other people all the way to how real life climate negotiations work. It also allowed me to meet and be merged into a whole community of like-minded people who have the same desires and goals to help combat climate change. I hope to keep in touch with this amazing community of people and possibly even reconnect in the future for projects or such.

Mary: I really learned a lot from this camp. Even if you already know a lot about climate change, you’re guaranteed to learn something new from this [experience]. You learn about the science behind climate change, how it affects communities, the opposing perspectives surrounding environmental justice, and much more. This [program] has inspired me to study environmental justice in university.

Suler: This program has strengthened my understanding of the science of climate change, the interdisciplinary nature of environmental studies, and the different ways action can be taken. Apart from knowledge, I also gained perspectives, friendships, and connections with my peers; I thought that this aspect of the program was unique!

students
Suler and fellow climate activist friends have shared a summer to remember, with thought-provoking conversations, climate-focused learning, exciting excursions, and fun!

If you have already brought your Climate Action Plan into your community, we would love to hear about your progress!

Amanda: Although I have yet to put my climate action plan into my community, I am hoping to begin its implementation once the school year starts, as I hope to focus on educating elementary school kids in classrooms.

students sitting at table with meals
Mary and friends enjoy the program’s Celebrate Dinner as they conclude an action-packed summer.

Mary: This summer I’ve been working with some of my classmates on a cleanup club, where we clean up the litter on our local beaches. We already have our cleanup dates set for the next few months. 

Suler: I am currently working with an organization I was a part of before called Westchester Citizens’ Climate Lobby. I am working with other members to table more frequently at local events. Our organization focuses on three pillars of environmental action: outreach/connecting with the community, clean energy, and nature-based solutions.

Learn more

Looking for climate-themed traveling programs? We also offer the Columbia Climate Corps program, which combines intentional travel with in-depth educational opportunities, taking students across the United States and abroad to experience a destination through the lens of climate change and focus intently on location-specific themes. Summer 2023 travel programs include:

Alaska: Climate Communication and Exploration, July 17 – July 28, 2023

IcelandCarbon Capture Technology, July 20 – August 1, 2023

Chile and Peru: Climate Impacts and Risk, July 22 – August 11, 2023

We will be hosting information sessions for our summer 2023 programs to share more about our Pre-College Summer Programs and answer any questions you may have:

Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at 4:00 pm ET

Thursday, February 9, 2023 at 4:00 pm ET

Wednesday, March 15, 2023 at 4:00 pm ET

Scholarship opportunities are available for those who are eligible. Highly motivated high school students (and rising 9th graders) that are eager to participate in climate action in their communities are encouraged to apply today.

Stay up to date on our pre-college offerings by subscribing to our mailing list.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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