Climate READY: A three-semester youth empowerment program
Abstract. The Climate Resilience Education and Action for Dedicate Youth (Climate READY) program, developed by the Florida Atlantic University Pine Jog Environmental Education Center (FAU Pine Jog) and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Environmental Literacy Program, built climate literacy and community resilience through a three-semester dual enrollment program (NOAA-SEC-OED-2020-2006190). Most student participants (~80 %) were from Title-1, high schools in low socio-economic communities vulnerable to extreme weather and environmental hazards in Palm Beach County, Florida. The main objectives were to
- increase knowledge of South Florida’s changing climate systems,
- teach and promote environmentally responsible behavior that results in the stewardship of healthy ecosystems and a reduction in carbon consumption to mitigate future environmental risks, and
- empower students to act as agents of change within the community by teaching community members about local climate impacts and resilience strategies for extreme weather events.
Students in the Climate READY Ambassador Institute (Summer Semester 1) built climate knowledge, explored NOAA technology, engaged with scientists and resilience experts, developed communication and advocacy skills, and learned about local resilience solutions. An Afterschool Mentorship (Fall Semester 2) component paired new Climate READY Ambassadors with fourth- and fifth- grade afterschool students to build community resilience awareness through the creation of storybooks. Lastly, Community Outreach (Spring Semester 3) provided ways to share local resilience strategies at public events and promoted civic engagement in climate solutions. Data were collected from students in the form of pre- and post-assessment questionnaires during the 2022–2023 academic year. Summative statistics were analyzed for climate science knowledge, self-identity, self-efficacy, and sense of place. Students felt more prepared, confident, and able to communicate within their communities about climate change and many demonstrated a significantly better understanding of climate science concepts.
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