5th Annual Youth Climate Summit Draws Over 120 Students, Teachers

“Because we only get one Earth”

On April 19th and 20th the Nurture Nature Center hosted the 5th Annual Youth Climate Summit of the Lehigh Valley, a part of NNC’s CREATE Connections project supported by NOAA’s Environmental Literacy Program. The event brought together over 120 students, teachers, and community members to discuss climate change and the actions we can take locally to address it. 

Individual students and groups from Community Bike Works, the Boys and Girls Club of Easton, Bethlehem Area School District, Moravian Academy, Emmaus High School’s Jasper Program, Souderton Area High School, and South Hunterdon Regional High School attended. They heard a keynote address on the links between global climate science, international climate negotiations, and local action from Dr. Diane Husic, professor at Moravian University. Each student took a short quiz to identify their “climate superpower,” or a particular role they might play within the climate movement based on their interests and skills.

What’s Your Climate Superpower?

  • The Artist
  • The Reformer
  • The Entrepreneur
  • The Scientist
  • The Storyteller
  • The Organizer
  • The Architect 
  • The Caregiver


Another highlight of the first day was the Share-A-Thon featuring a compilation of student-submitted videos highlighting projects they had worked on related to climate action and sustainability. We also had over 20 groups join us to table at the Climate Fair – an expo where students met representatives from Wildlands Conservancy, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Alliance for Sustainable Communities, Easton Garden Works, Duke Farms, SciStarter, The Wild Center, Bethlehem Area Public Library, Lehigh and Northampton County Emergency Management, Aevidum, Buy Fresh Buy Local, Easton Environmental Advisory Council, the Bethlehem Food Co-Op, Lehigh University, Muhlenberg College and Lafayette College Sustainability Offices, Community Bike Works, Coalition for Appropriate Transportation, the Boys and Girls Club of Easton, Generation180, and Green Builders United. 

Harper, a student at Emmaus High School, introduces the student Share-A-Thon

Students chatted with representatives of many community organizations at the Climate Fair

We wrapped up the day on Friday with a bike ride from NNC to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail led by Community Bike Works’s Easton Program Manager, Nella Panella. We met City of Easton Conservation Manager and forester Rob Christopher and Assistant Conservation Manager Miranda Wilcha to plant 15 native trees along the trail to promote a stronger riparian buffer along the Bushkill Creek.

Participants planted 15 native trees along the Karl Stirner Arts Trail’s nature trail

Day 2 of the summit brought more excitement as we were fortunate to have Hannah Barg, Youth Climate Program Manager at The Wild Center; Jeff Geist, Manager of Community & Professional Education at Duke Farms; and Caroline Nickerson, Executive Director at Florida Community Innovation and Advisor at SciStarter join us for a panel discussion of environment-related career paths. Summit attendees saw an engaging Science on a Sphere show about climate presented by NNC’s Outreach Educator, Jeff Mucklin, and got the creative juices flowing with an awesome introduction to nature journaling with NNC Art Director, Keri Maxfield. Students received a paper bag with a natural object inside (pinecone, seed pod, dried grass, etc.) and used drawing and writing to describe it, first only based on their sense of touch, and then taking the object out of the bag to see it. 

Students listen to the environmental and climate-related careers panel discussion

Our second to last session of the day took students back to the Science on a Sphere to discuss fast fashion and the social and environmental impacts of our clothing led by NNC Science Director, Kate Semmens. Finally, students put together everything they had learned over the two days of the summit to develop a Climate Action Plan for a project they could do in their school or community. After an introduction by NNC Project Specialist Lauren Fosbenner, each student or group brainstormed and shared their ideas, which ranged from asking the school board to improve climate change curriculum to starting a school thrift store to help those in need while promoting reuse to advocating for reusable school lunch trays instead of disposable. 

To celebrate the completed summit, Community Bike Works led a bike parade through Easton! Thank you to the City of Easton’s police officers for providing an escort to help at intersections and street crossings. The parade ended at the Easton Public Market where we continued to build connections among participants with a game of ping pong.  We are already looking forward to next year’s summit and to continue to engage with those who participated this year! 

Attendees from Souderton Area High School at NNC

Special thanks to all of our participants: students, climate fair tablers, Jeff, Caroline, and Hannah on our career panel, Dr. Diane Husic, teachers who organized trips for their students to attend, Community Bike Works and Boys and Girls Club of Easton for their support in planning and their contributions to each day of the event, and NNC’s staff for being “all hands on deck” to make this event happen!


This post was prepared by the Nurture Nature Center under award NA23SEC0080002 from the Environmental Literacy Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA or the U.S. Department of Commerce.