The visions and values of young people have to be seen, heard, prioritized, and realized through climate change activism.” Karen O’Brien, professor of Human Geography, University of Oslo
There are so many ways students can make a difference. They can begin on the local level, studying their own school’s lighting, heating, cooling, food production and water use to find ways for schools to be sustainable. This is action-oriented learning. Students can make videos, songs, poems, plays, podcasts, meet with their representatives, and use photography to raise awareness of the climate crisis.
To see young New Mexico climate activists in action, visit our NM Climate Kids page.
Projects and Organizations
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education webpage has a short video and resources on how to contact your representatives and policymakers to promote clean energy. Appropriate for elementary students through adults.
Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) Our Climate Our Future has award-winning videos on climate change aimed at students in 6th-12th grade. Their visually appealing and entertaining videos are easy to understand and are appropriate for younger students as well. Several activities are focused on inspiring youth action on climate. All resources are free with the creation of a website login using an email address.
Do you watch or read climate crisis news and think: “Ok, this is bad, but what now? What can I do about this?” The bank.green website created by students shows people new to money and finance if their (or their parents’) bank is funding fossil fuel projects, and if so how to take steps to encourage the bank to change its ways.
In the Ocean Awareness Student Contest, students ages 11-18 from around the world are invited to submit visual art, poetry, prose, film, and music that explores the oceans and climate change theme Presence of the Future. Students are eligible to earn scholarships of up to $1,500. This is an annual contest, and the application deadline is usually in June.
Successful green schools are better for students, teachers, and communities. They teach students how to lead a changing world, and they support student understanding by modeling sustainable behavior through green operations and building practices.
Three scientists encourage research in climate change by giving awards to high school climate change projects in STEM fairs and provide yearly research grants to undergraduate and graduate students in any discipline for climate change-related work. These awards are for high school and college students.
“A participatory art ritual of love and hope for the Climate Justice Movement.”
The Climate Ribbon Project invites people around the country, and the world, to share what they love and what they hope never to lose because of climate chaos. This website shares people’s stories and a tool kit for how to create your own climate ribbons.
DOT Every Action Counts! You can do something about climate change. Everyday actions add up. Do One Thing to fight climate change and help the planet! The more people join in, the bigger difference we make.
Project Drawdown gathers and facilitates a broad coalition of researchers, scientists, graduate students, PhDs, post-docs, policymakers, business leaders, and activists to assemble and present the best available information on climate solutions in order to describe their beneficial financial, social and environmental impact over the next thirty years.
Generation 180 is a non-profit committed to advancing the transition to clean energy and supporting a cultural shift in energy awareness among individuals and communities across the country. One of their campaigns is to give youth the tools to push their school boards to pledge 100% clean energy for school districts.
Join the Planet Stewards Project and become eligible to apply for up to $2,500 to carry out an environmental stewardship project at your school. Planet Stewards provide K-16 formal and informal educators the knowledge and resources to build scientifically-literate individuals and communities.
The Story of Stuff has many videos on current environmental issues and ways students can take action and join in numerous campaigns, ranging from stopping plastic pollution to ending junk mail delivery.
Young Voices for the Planet documents youth speaking out and creating solutions, and several stories of kids in action are included in the free short films on their website. These include California kids banning plastic bags, Florida students saving their school $53,000 in energy costs, and an 11-year-old German boy planting millions of trees. The site also includes curriculum and teacher resources, such as lesson plans to accompany the films on the site and activities focused on leading students in developing their own action plans. These resources were designed for use in grades 3-12.
The Youth Climate Action Network is an amazing example of students making a difference in their school and the wider community. They’re installing a green roof on their school; plus, they’re working with teachers in the area to develop a curriculum and share the project with students around Boston. See YouthCan on the Today Show.
High School Dual Credit Classes
High school students can learn valuable skills to help solve the climate crisis and other environmental issues by taking classes that earn them both high school and college credit.
For Albuquerque Public Schools Students
ENG 195-001, Intro to Water Resources. The University of New Mexico Center for Water and the Environment, in conjunction with the Department of the School of Engineering, periodically offers a dual-enrollment course that introduces high school students to concepts regarding water use and sustainability as well as water resource and environmental engineering. Course Prerequisites: Successful completion of Algebra I plus high school level Physics, Chemistry, or Environmental Science.