Inter-Tribal Youth Climate Leadership Congress

Category: 
Community Based

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Conservation Training Center successfully hosted the Inter-Tribal Climate Leadership Congress from June 28 - July 3, 2015 for 89 high school students and 23 adult chaperones representing 30 Native American, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian communities from across the country. Students improved their knowledge of climate change and their climate leadership skills, and developed climate change project presentation proposals which are applicable to their home communities. The U.S. FWS was assisted by staff and financial resources from the BIA, NPS, USFS and USGS. Highlights included the student climate presentations, a Shenandoah River boat trip, service projects on the NCTC campus, a performance by musicians Frank Waln and the Sampson Brothers, and a student Pow Wow.

 

Climate Change From Inter-Tribal Youth Congress 2015

Goals: 

To engage young Native American, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian leaders about climate change issues and to assist them in developing strategies to address climate impacts in their home communities. 

Upon completion of the Congress, students were able to:

• Identify 3 key climate-related issues facing their communities

• Describe how various federal agencies are addressing climate change

• Recommend actions that the federal government and tribal communities can take to address climate change and its impacts

• Demonstrate leadership and communications skills to engage with their peers and home communities about climate change, and

• Actively participate in the larger network of like-minded people addressing issues related to climate change and natural resource conservation in their home communities.

 

"Everyone had so much faith in each other. I felt so empowered when we all came together. I felt that we could all change the world because we were all so motivated to do so. We know how our traditional ways are being affected due to climate change. We all want to keep our traditional ways and this can only happen if we come together for this common cause. The future belongs to us and we are the ones who can change what is happening...

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have people around me who thought the same way that I did and wanted to do similar things in the world. The experience I had will help me to spread my new knowledge about climate change to my community so people can become more aware of how much climate affects everyone and how we affect the climate. Gunalchéesh. (Thank you.)"

Sierra Ezrre, Juneau Douglas High School, Juneau, Alaska, age 17

High Level Impact: 

A written evaluation at the end of the Congress demonstrated that it had a positive impact on the students. For example, the Congress was shown to increase student’s knowledge, skills, networks, familiarity and comfort level the greatest amount in the following areas:

• Increasing their knowledge of climate change (94% agreeing or strongly agreeing)

• Improving their climate leadership skills (87% agreeing or strongly agreeing)

• Expanding their networks of peers and adults with similar environmental interests (83%)

• Increasing their familiarity with federal agencies and their climate change efforts (81%) 

• Increasing their knowledge of river ecosystems (80%) 

• Increasing their comfort level of being in nature (80%)

In a follow-up effort to maintain the energy generated by the Congress, the FWS and BIA, working with an NGO partner, Inter-Tribal Student Services, are providing seed-money for post-Congress student-led projects in their home communities, supported by adult mentors, as a community service component of the Congress. The funding award process is currently being finalized and will be launched in December 2015.

A 2016 event is tentatively scheduled for July 5-9, 2016 at the National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, WV.

 
Point of Contact: 

Jim Siegel, US Fish and Wildlife Service

jim_siegel@fws.gov