Some June graduates envision college or careers. The 18 Upper Valley residents who graduated on June 16 from the Climate Change Leadership Academy dream of biodegradable packaging for salad greens, supporting pollinators and young and BIPOC climate leaders, creating wildlife corridors, reducing car idling, and better ways to deal with household waste.
A program of the all-volunteer Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup and Vital Communities, the Academy (known as 2CLA) unfolded in seven sessions from March to June. The sessions focused first on the science of climate change and how we can adapt to or mitigate its effects, and next on a “design thinking” process to help participants conceive of climate-related projects they can lead in their communities. Because of the pandemic, all sessions took place virtually.
“Our graduates this year include high school students, retirees, and everyone in between,” explains Sarah Brock, the Academy’s coordinator at Vital Communities. “These are regular people who already care deeply about climate change, we are simply giving them the tools, context, and confidence to lead projects and create positive change in our communities. We hope their efforts will inspire others.”
2CLA participants presented their community-based climate action projects during a graduation event on June 16. The projects include:
- Enticing native bees and other pollinators back into downtown Springfield, VT
- Expanding wildlife corridors in Corinth, VT
- Increasing representation by BIPOC and youth in climate leadership organizations
- Bringing more climate change education into schools in Hanover and Lebanon, NH
- Exploring opportunities for private land conservation in Windsor County, VT
- Reducing tailpipe exhaust and wasted energy from car idling in Lebanon, NH
- Talking with local grocers to identify alternatives to hard plastic packaging for salad greens.
- Helping neighbors weatherize their homes and install heat pumps in Bradford, NH and Thetford, VT
“I’m so grateful for the level of expertise and access to educators we’ve been able to receive,” said Miranda Moody Miller, a graduate from Corinth, VT, describing the program as “a gift and opportunity for all of us. [I feel] so blessed and a part of something momentous.”
This was the second class to graduate from the Climate Change Leadership Academy, a program UVAW and Vital Communities hope to run annually. The next series is expected to run March through June 2022 and begin accepting applications in January 2022.
Our Climate Change Leadership Academy 2021 graduates include:
Alyssa Graber of Lebanon, NH
Amanda Porter of Springfield, VT
Barbara Slaiby of Lebanon, NH
Chris Kennedy of Hanover, NH
Cindy Heath of Cornish, NH
Georgia Michalovic of Lebanon, NH
James Graham of Lyme, NH
Jim McCracken of Thetford, VT
Jim Nourse of Lyme, NH
Judith Howland of Hartland, VT
Kristina Harrold of Lebanon, NH
Liane Avery of Lebanon, NH
Louisa Spencer of Lebanon, NH
Lydia Hansberry of Hanover, NH
Melody Johnson of New London, NH
Miranda Moody Miller of Corinth, VT
Sandra Bravo of Bradford, NH
Steven Zubkoff of Hanover, NH