Princeton Day School Hosts Student Climate Change Conference, 5/12
Princeton Day School Hosts Student Climate Change Conference, 5/12

By high school students, for high school students is the motto of the two Upper School groups--the Energy and Climate Scholars and the EnAct (Environmental Action) Club--who have organized the second annual Student Climate Change Conference, which will take place on campus May 12 from 12:00 to 5:30 p.m. Free and open to all high school students and faculty, the event will feature student presentations on all aspects of climate change (policy, water, food, agriculture, technology), a nonprofit fair, a range of outdoor activities, and a keynote address by Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and noted environmental activist.

Pre-registration is required. Here is a link to register for the conference.

The students have partnered with the Princeton Environmental Institute at Princeton University, the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association, and the Cherry Valley Cooperative for support.

The nonprofit fair will feature representatives from the following organizations: Sustainable Princeton, Cherry Valley Coop, Department of Environmental Protection,New Jersey Audubon, Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, TerraCycle, Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association, Earth Documentary Resistance, Friends of Princeton Open Space, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association.

Free food will be offered by local vendors including Wegman's, The Whole Earth Center, and The Bent Spoon, among others.

A highlight of Student Climate Change Conference is the presentations by Princeton Day School Energy & Climate Scholars in grades 10-12, who have been mentored by Princeton University graduate students from the Princeton Environmental Institute. The topics covered by PDS Students will include:

  • Environmental impacts of climate change
  • Technological Solutions to Climate Change: Electricity and Renewables
  • Climate Change Policy and Politics
  • Resilience planning for Climate Change

In addition, students from other schools in our region, including The Lawrenceville School, Highland Park High School, The Westtown School, Princeton High School, and Montclair Kimberley Academy, among others, will present on topics including:

  • Environmental Racism: Chester County, PA Case Study
  • Composting at Montclair Kimberley Academy
  • Algae as Biofuel and Its Impact on the Environment
  • Constructing a Butterfly Way Station
  • Student Involvement as a Model for Advancing Sustainable Action

After the student presentations, a range of outdoor activities will be offered, guided by teachers from PDS, the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association, and the Cherry Valley Cooperative. Some examples are: Nature Parkour: Connecting to nature through movement and play; River-Friendly PDS: Tour the river-friendly practices at the PDS campus Center; Invasive Landscape: Discover your plant neighbors, some native, and others invasive; Wild Edible Plants: Meet and taste a small assortment of edible plants on the PDS campus; and What's All The Buzz? Learn about bees, what's happening to them in our ecosystem, and visit PDS hives with a beekeeper.

Princeton Day School is deeply committed to sustainability and is recognized as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School, a New Jersey Green Ribbon School, a Gold-Level River-Friendly Certified School, a 3-star Green Restaurant Association designee, and recently received Garden of the Year Award from the New Jersey Farm to School Network. The Student Climate Change Conference is a key part of this program, as the focus is on the work of the students themselves. Last year's conference was held at the Watershed, and 125 high school students from 27 New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania schools registered.

The Student Climate Change conference is the culmination of a year-long partnership between Princeton University and Princeton Day School where graduate students work once per month with selected high school students to study the many aspects of energy and climate change.

One student involved in the planning of the conference, Harjap Singh, class of 2020, noted, "As a presenter as well as an organizer for the Student Climate Conference, I believe that this program is aimed toward empowering youth to not only learn about climate change but to leave with the message that students have significant power in their hands and that climate action can be taken by every single one of us."