The results of climate change are becoming ever more evident. Yet, according to an article in GRIST by Miyo McGinn, most American kids graduate high school “without any formal education about a crisis that is already harming their communities and fundamentally reshaping life on Earth."
The National Wildlife Federation - along with the American Littoral Society - is trying to change that by providing quality curricula and programs that advance climate literacy through the Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC™) program.
The RISC program was first launched in 2017 in six New York City public schools by Brooklyn College, the National Wildlife Federation, and partners with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In March of 2020, National Wildlife Federation staff and partners were planning culminating boat excursions and dune plantings at local beaches. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
As a result, New York City schools were closed on March 15 and everything changed. Families were hit hard. Jobs and lives were lost.
After consulting with teachers and partners about their personal health and morale, and that of their students and families, a new plan was developed that involved the National Wildlife Federation pivoting to provide virtual field trip experiences to replace planned in-person activities.
Through a mix of in-person and pre-recorded videos from American Littoral Society, students “visited” Jamaica Bay’s marshes, “witnessed” dune grass planting at a local beach, and “attended” a backyard garden tour. They also revisited heat equity with Trees New York.
"The American Littoral Society is excited to be working with the National Wildlife Federation in providing valuable outdoor educational experiences to school kids across New York City. We hope this program will bring them closer to the coast that we love and advocate for,” said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the Littoral Society.
To end the year, the National Wildlife Federation mailed gardening kits to RiSC families. These included native wildflower seeds, growing media and instructions for germinating seedlings at home that could be transplanted into street tree beds in the summer.
“In a world where extreme weather events, hurricanes and wildfires are ravaging communities and disproportionately threatening already vulnerable populations, programs like RiSC are urgently needed,” said Emily Fano, senior education manager and RiSC principal investigator for the National Wildlife Federation in New York City. “Climate education is critical to help future generations understand and adapt to a rapidly changing world."
To keep the program going, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has renewed its funding, providing $450,000 for three years of (2020-2023). The program will also receive a one-year, $100,000 grant from Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Click this link to learn more about the program or watch the short film below.