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Clark County Green Schools teamed up with EarthGen (formerly Washington Green Schools) to host Virtual Student Summits this year for elementary, middle school, and high school students. It looked a little different, but it was every bit as fun, informative, and engaging as years past. Hosting it virtually also gave us the ability to open the Summits to students from all over Washington State. At the elementary and middle school Summit, we had a total of eight schools representing Clark County, Bellingham, Seattle, Naches Valley, and Onalaska. At the high school Summit, we welcomed students from Camas High School, Innovation Lab High School in Northshore, and Coupeville High School. It was so cool meet some new faces and see what kinds of things green teams around the state are doing to promote sustainability and waste reduction at their schools!

To kick off the Summits, Chloe Brush, a senior at Western Washington University, spoke about her journey as a student. She'll be graduating in June with a degree in environmental studies and a minor in environmental justice. Her love for nature started when she was a Girl Scout and was learning all about bugs, trees, and other critters around her hometown of Portland, OR. This inspired her to join her high school's green team and pursue a degree in the environmental field. During her college career, Chloe volunteered and interned with various organizations including her school's on-campus farm. She did such a great job inspiring students to get involved in their communities and at school.

High school students used Jamboard and were especially inspired by the guest speakers during our career panel.

Next, we heard from environmental experts from around the state at our career panel. Jena Jauchius, a landscape architect, Daniel Chang, a water resources engineer with Aspect Consulting, and Jillian Roger, a high school junior at Columbia River High School and member of the Citizens Climate Lobby, all spoke at the elementary and middle school Summit. During the high school career panel, we learned about Andrea Crawford, a program coordinator at Wild Horse Wind Facility, Cleo Pineda, a stormwater engineer, and Paris Yates, an Urban Food Systems Gardener with Seattle Parks and Recreation. The students loved hearing about the journeys they took to follow their dreams and make a positive impact. This diverse group of environmental leaders was a true inspiration, and we are so lucky they could join us! Read more about these amazing folks in our blog post here.

After we finished up the career panel, we spent some time sharing about green team projects. Although green teams faced challenges because of the pandemic, quite a few were able to complete EarthGen's at-home certification, including Clark County schools Lacamas Lake Elementary and Camas High. In a year with so many changes and setbacks, it was so inspirational to hear that students are still so passionate about protecting the environment.

There are so many inspirational environmental leaders all over the world!

 To wrap up the day, the elementary and middle school students participated in a fun game of bingo while high school students played a trivia game on Kahoot. Both featured environmental leaders from around the world, such as Greta Thunberg and Wangari Maathai, for students to learn that people of all ages and different backgrounds can really change the world if they put their minds to it. It was the perfect way to end the day and leave the Summit feeling inspired and ready to take on new challenges.