Reflecting on the successful Environmental Stewardship Open House presented by ACES which showed students some of the different environmental career paths available and provided them with the opportunity to gain experiences in the field.
Allies and Partners
NEWBURYPORT — In a coastal city like Newburyport, city officials recognize that youth engagement is critical in addressing concerns of climate change and sea level rise.
With this in mind, organizers from the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards, known as ACES, worked with Newburyport Public Schools’ officials to organize the Environmental Stewardship Open House on Thursday afternoon.
More than 100 Newburyport High School students took advantage of the event, which provided them the chance to network with various local environmental groups and organizations and learn about internship and volunteer opportunities.
“If we’re going to make our city greener, it’s going to have to be a combined effort,”
Mayor Sean Reardon told students and teachers Thursday. “We can’t do this alone.”
A report released this week by researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that the U.S. could see up to a foot of sea level rise by 2050, Reardon noted.
“Much of my job as mayor is to plan for the future,” he said.
The city is looking at reducing both its waste and energy use, addressing effects of climate change and furthering climate resiliency efforts, Reardon said.
“By 2030, we’re aiming to reduce our energy use by 45% and our waste by 30%,” he said. “By 2050, we hope to reduce our current energy use by 85%, which is incredibly ambitious.”
Additionally, the city seeks to reduce its waste by 90% by 2050, Reardon said.
“We need you, the next generation, to start looking at these problems on an every day basis and how we can accomplish this together,” the mayor said.
Principal Andrew Wulf commended ACES for playing “a big role in engaging youth because the reality is you have a big part in what our planet and how our planet is going to function in years to come.”
He told students that the more they are inspired to take action, “the better off all of us are going to be.”
Connecting students with real world opportunities
Superintendent Sean Gallagher said this open house was just one example of how school officials are trying to connect students with real world opportunities, which will help them not only find a career path, but gain experiences in the field.
Aaron Ribaudo-Smith, the school’s college and career counselor, discussed some of the ways that students can earn academic credits for participating in a certain number of community service hours or by completing an internship.
The purpose of this open house was to show students some of the different environmental career paths available. Some examples of those paths include urban planning, environmental law, green energy technology and conservation science.
Sarah Hall, vice chair of the School Committee and an environmental educator for Mass Audubon, talked to students about how to “think globally, act personally and work locally.”
Being aware of how climate change will affect the world is the first step, but it’s the little steps that people take on their own, affecting their local community, that really matters, she explained.
Hall noted that there are plenty of opportunities to join local initiatives. Some examples include planting pollinator gardens for bees and butterflies to safely pollinate and getting involved in efforts to clean up the Merrimack River.
Olivia Barbera, a Newburyport High School student and officer with the school’s environmental club, encouraged people to consider joining and collaborating with their fellow peers on environmental efforts.
Adella Daigle, president of the environmental club, said recent efforts include working on an educational bulletin board, finishing up a sustainable cookbook and planning an outdoor garden.
Representatives also spoke from the Interact Club about other community service opportunities.
Mia Rodrigues, president of Interact Club, said the goal of the club is “to help the Greater Newburyport area and to get youth involved in our community.”
Riya and Priya Kaur said the Interact Club collaborates with the Rotary Club on service initiatives throughout the city. One example of their work is keeping up with the landscaping around the rotary near Moseley Woods.
After hearing from these speakers in the auditorium, students visited the cafeteria where more than a dozen organizations set up tables for students to network and learn about local internship and community service opportunities.
Brenda Hoover, an ACES advisor and mentor, provided information about sustainable fashion and what it means to shop ethically.
Other members of ACES offered information on waste reduction, public awareness and education and the importance of protecting natural resources.
Ellie Volckhausen of Pollinator PowerWorks Networks talked to students about the benefits of planting pollinator gardens, which provide safe harbors for bees and butterflies in the community.
Representatives from Storm Surge discussed their science-based research and educational opportunities with students.
Some of the other groups included the Newburyport Tree Coalition, Maple Crest Farms, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and the C-10 Research and Education Foundation.