New York & New Jersey Climate Education Youth Summit

Columbia University’s Eco Ambassadors Program of the Center for Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute, in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation in New York City and New Jersey Audubon, is organizing a Climate Education Youth Summit for New York and New Jersey’s students.This Summit is best for middle and high schoolers as well as college students, but all are welcome! Each day of the Summit will include a panel of inspiring speakers as well as hands-on, skills-oriented workshops addressing the climate crisis. Our conversations will be based on the following key questions, with a theme each day.

The themes include climate education, community organizing, action planning, communication & arts for climate, and tips from students on college and career preparation.

  • How can communities take up climate change related actions?
  • How are students addressing the issue of climate change education?
  • What role does education play in addressing climate change?
  • How can institutions help to raise awareness and change behaviors?

The goal of the Summit will be to spread awareness about the climate crisis and its links to education through fun and engaging discussions. It will also help students learn how to address sustainability issues in their communities.

Keep scrolling down for more details! 


Poster about the NY NJ Climate Education Youth Summit with summary and photo of First Lady of NJ Tammy Murphy as keynote speaker and Professor Jeffrey Sachs as guest speaker


3:30pm - 3:40pm: WELCOME REMARKS

  • Welcome & Introduction by Radhika Iyengar, Director of Education, Center for Sustainable Development at Earth Institute, Columbia University Eco Ambassador Program & online course for teachers and educators.

3:40pm - 3:55pm: KEYNOTE Keynote Speech by Tammy Murphy, First Lady of New Jersey

3:55pm - 4:15pm: Guest Speaker Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University and Advocate to the UN Secretary General on SDGs with a student panel

  • Purva Bommireddy, Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Technologies.New Jersey
  • Navyaa Jain, Newark Academy in New Jersey
  • Ishaan Bharadwaj, Millburn Middle School, New Jersey


  • André Corrêa d'Almeida, Adjunct Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs; Assistant Director of MPA in Development Practice at School of International & Public Affairs of Columbia University
  • Priya Patel, Chairperson, Environmental Commission, Millburn, New Jersey
  • Radley Faulknor, AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer, Public Works Department, Baltimore
  • Moderators: Haein Shin, Education Technical Adviser at the Center for Sustainable Development of Earth Institute, Columbia University & Navyaa Jain, co-chair for the NJ Student Sustainability Coalition


    • Marc Rogoff, Lead Environmental Education Specialist, NJ Environmental Protection
    • Jaimie Cloud, Founder & President, The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education
    • Michael Heinz, Education Program Development Specialist 3, Office of Standards, New Jersey, Department of Education
    • Moderators: Tara Stafford Ocansey, Education Technology Specialist, Center for Sustainable Development, Earth Institute, Columbia University & Aalok Bhatt, Eco Ambassador & Millburn High School student

    4:45pm - 5:00 pm: BREAK & NETWORKING


    • Amina Castronovo, Youth Steering Committee Member, The Climate and Resilience Education Task Force, National Wildlife Federation
    • Faiza Azam, Youth Leader, Our Climate!
    • Jade Lozada, Co-policy director at TREEage
    • Moderator: Tara Stafford Ocansey, Education Technology Specialist, Center for Sustainable Development, Earth Institute, Columbia University



    This panel will be of interest to K-12 teachers & educators!

    • Shakira Provasoli, Science and hydroponics teacher, PS 333 in Manhattan
    • Becky Higgins, Science Educator, Johns Hopkins University Science Content Specialist, Bridgeport, CT
    • William Bertolotti, Science Teacher, Plainedge High school, NY
    • Cassie Xu, Associate Director, Non-Degree Education & Outreach Programs, Director's Office, Earth Institute, Columbia University
    • Moderators: Radhika Iyengar, Director of Education, Center for Sustainable Development & Suvid Bordia, Washington School, Millburn, NJ, Juliana Bartels, Center for Sustainable Development


    Discussion & Presentation on the Climate Education Resources Toolkit developed by Climate and Resilience Education Task Force Youth Steering Committee members, National Wildlife Federation.

    NYC-based high school students Gabriela Mendoza, Sara Poon, and Elena Rubenstein will share about their work on a climate education toolkit: a compilation of vetted resources- including curriculum sets, lesson plans, websites, organizations to get involved with, and information on environmental justice- curated by high school students, for students and teachers interested in engaging with the climate crisis. For teachers, the toolkit provides insight into how to facilitate climate discussions and classroom activities. For students, the toolkit will teach you how to get involved in student-led activism, reliable research, and interactive activities that lead to a deeper understanding of the climate crisis.   

    5:00pm - 5:30pm: BREAK & NETWORKING

    5:30pm - 6:30pm: PANEL: STUDENT RESEARCH

    Readington Middle School Team Research on: Climate Change, COVID-19, and Creating Community; Growing Food and Resilience in the Garden State; An Investigation into Sustainable Hyperlocal Food Production to Increase Food Security for All -- the Science and the Student Action it Sparked

    • Middle School Students

      • Readington
      • Christopher Serrao, Grade 9
      • Eddie Lou, Grade 9
      • Riya Gupta, Grade 8
      • Tatiana Hlinka, Grade 8
      • Bronwyn Downey, Grade 7
      • Olivia Davis, Grade 7
      • Callum Suggitt, Grade 6
      • Millburn School
      • Vidya Bindal, Grade 7
    • Readington Middle School Advisor, Betsy Freeman, Enrichment Coordinator of Green Initiatives and Sustainability

    • Readington Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Jonathan Hart

    • Moderators: Radhika Iyengar, Director of Education, Center for Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute, Columbia University & Allison Mulch, Project Director for School Sustainability, NJ Audubon


    • Andrew Revkin, Founding Director of the Initiative on Communication and Sustainability at Columbia University's Earth Institute
    • Joaquim Goes, Lamont Research Professor at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University's Earth Institute
    • Valerie J Amor, LEED AP BD+C, CPHD, EcoDistricts AP and Lic. FL RE Broker
    • Moderators Haein Shin, Education Technical Adviser, Center for Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute, Columbia University & Kristina Ang, fashion student at Parsons School of Design


    New Jersey Student Climate Challenge presentation by Andrea Drewes. The New Jersey Student Climate Challenge is a pilot program to highlight the role youth can play in addressing the climate crisis. This free program includes a virtual Climate Summit and a Climate Contest that will provide support and recognition to teams of middle and high school students in Atlantic City Electric’s (ACE) service area as they implement local projects to address the climate crisis. ACE’s service territory includes parts of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, and Salem counties. Schools serving students in grade six and above are eligible to participate. View the list of eligible schools here. Based on the success of this pilot project, the project partners hope to implement the New Jersey Student Climate Challenge statewide in the 2021-2022 school year.


    Facilitated by Edie Fine and Virgile-Minh, Extinction Rebellion Youth NYC. Extinction Rebellion is a global nonviolent movement to compel the world’s governments to address the climate and ecological emergency. This workshop delves into the long accepted notion within advocacy that an artistic identity is essential to change. We will be exploring the ways in which visual, literary, and performance art can shake loose our inhibiting notions of the world and make us confront the issues we face. In the climate movement specifically, artivism is central in that it encourages a cultural shift where creating is valued instead of consuming, building instead of destroying. Artivism is about constructing a better, more artful world in place of an antiquated oppressive one.


    “What will we do with the information we learned at this summit? How can we collectively organize?”


    • Charlotte Munson, Sustainability student, Columbia University
    • Jeremy Ashton Zimmerman, SDG Hub Member, Columbia University
    • Sofia Assab, SDG Hub Member, Columbia University
    • David Yang, SDG Hub Member, Columbia University
    • Isadora Muszkat, SDG Hub Member, Columbia University
    • Moderators: Purva Bommireddy, Team Leader, Bye Bye Plastic Bags New Jersey & Navyaa Jain, High School Co-Chair, NJ Student Sustainability Coalition


    • Jeneda and Clayson Benally belong to the Navajo tribe. Along with their other siblings, they are a part of the family dance troupe, The Jones Benally Family, and the Navajo punk rock band, Blackfire, where they channelized their anger at the injustices faced by their people through their music. The brother-sister duo is also the force behind the award-winning punk rock group, Sihasin, which was formed in 2012. Their first album, ‘Never Surrender' won critical acclaim and numerous awards. They also collaborated on the song “Sister Moon and Brother Sun” for the 2017 Grammy-nominated album, The Okee Dokee Brothers. Their songs like ‘Strong Together’, ‘Stand Up’ and ‘Shine’  are characterized by powerful lyrics and strong rhythmic beats. They are not only creative performers but also activists who have traveled the world sharing their culture and raising awareness on important issues such as human rights, environmental and animal rights, forced relocation, and the importance of sacred sites, native language, and traditions. Jeneda has been a Miss Flagstaff Indian Days Powwow Princess and is also a national Native American Honor Roll Society member. Jeneda and Clayson also conduct workshops in schools to foster cultural acceptance and pride and bring hope to the next generation.
    • Interviewer: Aalok Bhatt, Millburn High School student

    5:00pm - 6:30pm: WORKSHOP: ACTION PLANNING

    Post-Summit feedback survey


    Image and description of 7 organizers of the Summit

    Radhika Iyengar, Director Education, Center for Sustainable Development, Earth Institute, Columbia University 

    Radhika is a lifelong learner of sustainability. Her research focuses on Participatory Action Research and the power of the community to learn about local environmental issues and take charge. She uses citizen science approach as a tool for Education on Sustainable Development and Environmental Education. She is the Chair of the Environmental and Sustainability Education Special Interest Group at the Comparative International Education Society. Radhika would like to learn about factors that help to translate environmental knowledge into community action.


    Emily Alix Fano, M.A. Senior Education Manager , National Wildlife Federation in New York City

    Emily "Alix" Fano has a Master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy from Tufts University, is a published author, and a trained presenter with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project. In April 2020 she was designated a NYC Climate Hero by the Human Impacts Institute as part of a campaign to celebrate New Yorkers working to create a healthier, more just and resilient City. In her role as Senior Education Manager for the National Wildlife Federation in New York City, Emily designs and manages a variety of urban environmental conservation, stewardship, and climate resiliency programs for K-12 youth. In addition to planning conferences, teacher trainings, and special events, she Co-Chairs the NYC Pollinator Working Group and convenes the Climate and Resilience Education Task Force.


    Allison Mulch, Project Director for School Sustainability, NJ Audubon

    Allison has worked directly with 450 NJ Schools supporting administration and teaching staff with implementation of Eco-Schools USA in New Jersey and management of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program (ED-GRS) in a partnership with the NJ Department of Education. Allison oversees the state’s ED-GRS Nomination Committee composed of education, government and corporate leaders, is a Nominee for the New Jersey Commission for Environmental Education, and a co-contributing author for the Building Ecological Solutions to Coastal Hazards in a partnership with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. Allison also served as Director of the NJ Sustainable Schools Consortium at the Educational Information and Resource Center.


    Haein Shin, Education Technical Adviser, Center for Sustainable Development, Earth Institute, Columbia University

    Haein designs, curates and creates content for education for sustainable development as a means to facilitate conversations and trainings for sustainability practices, including Eco Ambassador Program, an education initiative to bring communities, educators and learners together for environmental action as well as training programs for job readiness, digital literacy and life skills for international youth. She started her career as a community educator with the US Peace Corps to implement education, environment, gender and health programs for children, youth and adults. Over the course of the past ten years, she has worked on project and program implementation, management, qualitative and implementation research for Monitoring and Evaluation in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, India and 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.


    Tara Stafford Ocansey, Education Technology Specialist, Center for Sustainable Development, Earth Institute, Columbia University

    Tara’s work focuses on supporting education and community stakeholders to influence their systems of education and governance to be more responsive to their needs, including through action research, teacher training and support, and development of teaching and learning content around social emotional learning, community organizing, entrepreneurship, and sustainability skills. Tara has developed eco-friendly vocational training programs for marginalized youth and adults in Ghana and Rwanda, and led action research projects aimed at influencing education decision-makers in India, Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. Prior to joining the Earth Institute, Tara worked as a community organizer with CALPIRG, helping to advance climate policy solutions including the nation’s first carbon cap and trade policy, and with Arts for LA, developing an advocacy training program for Los Angeles County school districts.


    Purva Bommireddy, Team Leader, Bye Bye Plastic Bags New Jersey

    Purva is a high school senior studying Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Technologies. She advocates for youth action, civic engagement, and public education around single-use plastics with Bye Bye Plastic Bags NJ and the NJ Student Sustainability Coalition. At the intersection of sustainability and innovation, Purva aims to pursue Environmental Engineering to address emerging design challenges.


    Navyaa Jain, High School Co-Chair, NJ Student Sustainability Coalition

    Navyaa is a high school sophomore at Newark Academy in New Jersey. Navyaa is the high school co-chair for the NJ Student Sustainability Coalition where she advocates for sustainability and climate change youth action. Working as an intern for Rebecca Parson’s 2020 Congressional Campaign, she advocated for action through policy, and hopes to pursue Environmental Law and Policy to strengthen legal action against corporates.

    Isabel Avina, Climate and Resilience Education Task Force Coordinator

    Isabel Avina is a climate organizer and consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. Isabel’s work centers climate justice education for liberation, coalition building, queer ecology, and radicalizing our conception of education. Isabel received her Master’s in environmental ethics from New York University, where she also received a Bachelor’s in environmental science. She is currently the Coordinator of the Climate and Resilience Education Task Force, a NY-based coalition gathered around the advancement of climate education through policy, student empowerment, and teacher support. Prior to this position, Isabel worked for NYC’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), where she led the agency’s climate education efforts, and authored their NYC-based climate education module for teachers and students citywide.