On Sat., Feb. 25, forty high school students from IE’s Climate Leadership and Energy Awareness Program (Climate LEAP) and the Increasing Diversity and Enhancing Academia Geoscience Program (IDEA), along with Action Fellows with the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), joined together for a Saturday Academy devoted to the topic of civic engagement. The program was facilitated by Paul Bonnici, special projects coordinator with the UNC Program in the Humanities (Carolina K-12), in collaboration with program leaders.
Students met with Mike Woodard, state senator; Cindy Perry, mayor of Pittsboro; Don Moffitt, Durham City Council Member; Diana Hales, Chatham County Commissioner; and Amanda Drake, sustainability specialist for Durham City and County to ask questions about the duties, challenges, and responsibilities of elected and appointed officials. Students also engaged with officials to talk about challenges facing the environment and learned about ways that youth can have an impact on decision-making in their own communities (such as voting, becoming youth members of advisory committees, and learning to contact representatives). After sharing lunch with these local and state officials, students participated in a mock city council simulation to experience the process local governments utilize to receive public input and make decisions on how funds are spent. Climate LEAP and IDEA are initiatives of the UNC Institute for the Environment managed by Dana Haine and Megan Hoert Hughes.