Young Leaders Address Climate Change to Local Level
An amazing group of 65 youth leaders from 23 high schools from throughout San Mateo County are working on projects dedicated to mitigating global warming and catastrophic climate change as part of the second cohort of San Mateo County Youth Climate Ambassadors (YCA). CEC piloted the project in 2018 and continues to support it.
The first cohort of Youth Climate Ambassadors graduated in early December 2020 in a successful virtual capstone event. It was made up of 50 youth leaders from 16 schools.
The group met regularly through the year for twice-monthly workshops and two retreats to collectively implement 27 community impact projects that spanned San Mateo County.
At the start of the program, only 50 percent of students felt knowledgeable about climate change, and 12 percent felt empowered to make a difference. By the end of the program, there was a significant increase, with 97 percent feeling very knowledgeable about climate change, and 91 percent feeling empowered to make a difference.
The YCA program is coordinated in partnership by the San Mateo County’s Office of Sustainability, the county’s Office of Education and the Citizens Environmental Council. Andra Yeghoian of the Office of Education and Zoe Van Duivenbode of the Office of Sustainability lead a team of seven county staffers and volunteers to develop and implement the program, including CEC Directors Mike McCord ad Desiree Thayer..
The current YCA program is an extension of the 2018 CEC High School Environmental Internship program that CEC offered with a grant from the Morris S. Smith Foundation, Sterling Franklin, Trustee, and with support from the City of Burlingame and its sustainability coordinator, Sigalle Michael. CEC began with eight students, all Burlingame residents, who attended five different high schools. The purpose of the program was to help these students learn about environmental issues and to support them in leading sustainability initiatives at their respective campuses.