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MEDIA INVITED: Summer program to engage youth in learning about climate resilience, Whiteville, NC

June 6, 2021 students holding globe

The Center for Public Engagement with Science (CPES) at the UNC Institute for the Environment, in partnership with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS) – Whiteville will host a three-day summer institute June 8-10 for youth enrolled in the Youth Engaging in the Science of Resilience in Urban and Rural NC (YES-Resilience) Teen Climate Ambassadors Program. This in-person event culminates what has been a year-long and virtual science enrichment program for high school students in the Whiteville region.

During this three-day program, eight 9th through 12th graders from Columbus, Hoke, New Hanover and Pender counties, will convene in an outdoor learning setting and apply what they have learned about climate resilience by building a model of a resilient community out of cardboard boxes and sharing their model with community stakeholders such as Justin Smith, a member of the Whiteville City Council (on June 8), and Brian Byfield, Resilient Communities Program Manager for the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency (on June 10).

Youth will conduct other interactive activities including a flood preparedness scavenger hunt to learn about environmental justice and a stormwater walk at Wrightsville Beach to consider features of resilient shorelines. Activities will be led by NCMNS and CPES educators.

Youth participants were supported in the planning and implementation of resilience-focused action projects; they will showcase their completed action projects and share their climate stories in a celebration with parents and program staff on June 10.

YES-Resilience is a pilot program supported by a $350,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program. This program engages high school-aged youth from groups underrepresented in STEM, including females, minorities, and youth from rural communities. To date, virtual interactive sessions have enabled participants to investigate the impacts of climate change in their communities, examine solutions, and design and implement community action projects.

Ultimately, this program will provide insight into how youth, including those who identify as belonging to groups underrepresented in STEM careers, learn and grow through participation in a climate change education program focused on human health and climate resilience with an emphasis on leadership development.

The program will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily; on June 8 and 10 activities will take place at the NCMNS-Whiteville location and on June 9 at Wrightsville Beach. Members of the media interested in attending can obtain a detailed agenda and inquire about media-friendly activities by contacting Sarah Yelton at