Youth for the Environment and People! in Whatcom and Skagit counties

North Cascades Institute is partnering with our friends at RE Sources to run a cohort of the Youth for the Environment and People! (YEP!) program this Fall. YEP! provides an opportunity for students to share ideas and passions, learn about climate change solutions, engage in local stewardship projects, and work together with other youth in choosing, planning, and implementing a group action project. The program’s focus this year is on projects that support carbon sinks, which take carbon out of the atmosphere.

Institute staff will meet with a cohort of teens from Skagit County once a week for 9 weeks, mentoring them in taking environmental action in their home community. The program includes two stewardship days, including a Saturday work party at the Tope Ryan Conservation Area. The 20-acre property northwest of Sedro-Woolley is owned by the Skagit Land Trust.

As reported in a story in the Skagit Valley Herald, “Burlington-Edison High School junior Hugo Avila is one of several Skagit County students in the program this fall.

“It seemed like a good opportunity to connect with other people with the same interest in climate change, and see what careers to do in the future,” he said.

He said he would like to pursue a career that will allow him to directly help communities to address climate change.”

(Read the rest of the article here.)

At the end of the YEP! program, each cohort of students will work together to implement their own service project. Actions could be engaging in a public education project, identifying a sustainable practice to be implemented in their community, finding ways to scale up efforts for emission reductions, or volunteering with a local ecosystem restoration project.

Institute staff will facilitate service projects for both the Skagit and Whatcom County cohorts. The cohort model allows teens to meet teens from other schools who are also committed to environmental action, empowering and amplifying their voices. 

In addition to on-the-ground stewardship projects, together with students, we will create a brave space to:

  • Discover, empower, and refine personal skills and talents
  • Practice stepping into leadership roles
  • Meet and work with youth in the region to create and implement a student-led action project
  • Connect with local organizations working to solve local climate change & justice issues in our region
  • Understand the basics of climate change and its intersection with social justice while cultivating a solution-oriented sense of hope. No prior knowledge about climate change necessary, we will provide learning opportunities!

YEP! is co-facilitated by (Whatcom cohort) Sasha Savoian, Education Specialist at RE Sources and (Skagit cohort) Elle Gasperini, Youth Leadership Coordinator at North Cascades Institute.

Past YEP! Projects

2020: Cohort One centered their environmental justice project around food access inequities. Ultimately, the group decided to make food bags for youth in need in our community. Cohort Two discussed the various ways pollution and disease disproportionately impact Black, Brown, Indigenous, Immigrant, and low-income communities. Ultimately, they decided the project would be twofold: (1) donate COVID-19 safety supplies to those in need, and (2) create a website that included helpful COVID resources. Learn more.

2019: After studying threats to the endangered Southern Resident orca, this cohort designed and painted a mural along a busy walking path to remind the community about the threats affecting the health of endangered Southern Resident orcas. Learn more.

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