Preparing Norfolk Area Students for America’s Second Highest Sea Level Rise
Children in the Norfolk, Va., area will inherit the highest sea level rise on the East Coast, second to New Orleans. In response, the non-profit Elizabeth River Project educated 25,333 students, 2,586 teachers, 63 Youth Resilience Leaders and 5 NEW River Ambassadors through a high school Youth Conservation Intern program for at-risk students. In addition, 180 River Star Schools and 13 new Resilient River Star Schools were recognized for implementing environmental projects addressing restoration, conservation, flooding and reducing their carbon footprint. The Elizabeth River Project prepared one of the first comprehensive youth education programs on resilience on this coast. The Elizabeth River Project, working since 1993 to restore the environmental health of the urban Elizabeth River, deployed its Dominion Energy Learning Barge, “America’s Greenest Vessel,” and its new urban park, Paradise Creek Nature Park, to empower K-12 students over three years to become informed decision makers and environmental stewards, prepared to adapt to rising seas. The project reached under-served schools in Norfolk and adjoining Portsmouth, Virginia. The lead science partner was Old Dominion University, on the forefront of climate change research and the University of Virginia for evaluation of education programs. Other partners included the Chrysler Museum of Art, ground zero for street flooding that has become routine in Norfolk. Elizabeth River Project’s first Youth Resilient Strategy Resilient Youth – South Hampton Roads A Pioneer Strategy of Hope and Action to Prepare Those Who Will Inherit Rising Seas. This plan is the first in America to call on educators, both in our schools and in the community, to help our youth prepare to inherit these extraordinary and increasing challenges. The youth plan will complement Norfolk Resilient City, a call to adults to prepare for rising seas and related challenges with a vision for our children to become hopeful, resilient leaders who innovate and persevere to safeguard our community as our lives change with a changing environment. The Elizabeth River Project will also serve as the Clearing House for education resources, activities and curriculum related to resilience as we launch a Youth Resilient Educators page at www.elizabethriver.org. Additional partners included: City of Norfolk Resilience Office, Norfolk and Portsmouth Public Schools, Wetland Watch and Hampton Roads Sanitation District.
Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC) Program
Brooklyn College, working with NWF Eco-Schools USA, will create The Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC) Program that increases environmental literacy while engaging high school and middle school students in climate resilience planning and practice in New York City (NYC). The City's long-term planning document, OneNYC, sets forth a vision for a resilient city without specifying a role for students or including specific plans for their schools. This project addresses this gap by developing resilience plans for NYC schools and including student voices in the process. Student RiSC teams at NYC public schools in Brooklyn impacted by Hurricane Sandy will utilize a new Climate RiSC Curriculum based on science from the National Climate Assessment and other NOAA resources to explore the vulnerability of their schools and neighborhoods to climate change, variability and extreme weather. The RiSC teams will follow a resilience assessment process modeled after the NOAA Community Resilience Index to develop resilience projects for their schools and neighborhoods. These Students will then present their resilience plans to NYC Department of Education officials and representatives from the NYC's Office of Resilience and Recovery at RiSC Summits coordinated with the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay. The RiSC Program and Climate RiSC Curriculum will be integrated into National Wildlife Federation's Eco-Schools USA program and disseminated nationally through the networks of the project partners.