Clark County Green Schools and Washington Green Schools teamed up with Oregon Green Schools and the Center for Green Schools to host a High School Student Summit during the national Green Schools Conference & Expo in Portland in early March. The Green Schools Conference & Expo is a yearly national conference for school administrators and teachers, architects, government agencies and many others to collaborate and share the amazing work they do to create safe and healthy learning environments that model best practices in sustainability. Hosting the High School Student Summit at the conference provided students with a unique opportunity to experience a professional setting and explore diverse career paths. For some of our Clark County students, this was their first time visiting Portland.
About 100 student leaders from schools in Clark County and Oregon attended the summit. These students work on various projects throughout the school year to improve sustainability efforts on campus. With guidance and expertise from their awesome green team leaders, together they find solutions to reduce waste, save energy, and promote sustainable alternatives.
"Getting to interact with my peers was really helpful and a great way to network with other people my age who are also passionate about climate."Oregon High School Student
Students started the day by exploring the exhibit hall and interacting with professionals representing a wide variety of careers. They were provided a list of questions to ask exhibitors about their jobs and what brought them to the conference. To kick off the first session of the Student Summit, a panel of three student activists spoke about their experiences in their fight against climate change. The youth panel included Lily Gardner, a high school junior from Kentucky and a director for Sunrise Movement, Isaac Vergun, a senior and climate activist from Beaverton, Oregon, and Rayan Krishnan, a freshman at Stanford University and creator of the educational video game Operation Sustain. Each panelist emphasized that a lot of people, especially young people, really care about the issues we are facing, and each of us can make a difference.
The Student Summit was filled with inspiring sessions led by professionals from around the region. Students learned about oceanic plastics pollution and solutions from the Oceanic Plastics Recovery Project and SOLVE. Students also created a reuse art project with SCRAP, a creative reuse non-profit in Portland. They made 3D murals using plastic pieces that resembled a starfish and sea turtle to portray the current plastic crisis in the oceans. Washington Green Schools engaged students in exercises exploring how to better involve their classmates and community in climate activism. Each school group created their own environmental outreach campaign, complete with a slogan, logo and social media plan. To wrap up the day students met with peers from different schools to discuss successes and challenges with projects they are working on currently. They took away tons of good feedback, resources and new project ideas. It was an amazing day spent learning, sharing, and growing! These students are a true inspiration, and they will do great things for their communities.
"I learned that young people can actually make a really big impact and are capable of forming whole movements, programs, and strikes. The youth panel helped me see this."Oregon High School Student