This guest post by Heather Deschenes of New England Aquarium is the first in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project, which investigates how teen ambassadors can make a difference for their city's green future.
With support from The Ocean Project’s Innovative Solutions Grants and Program, ClimaTEENS is a gathering of 15-18 year-olds that care about the ocean and who want to contribute to a healthy future. Teens in the program arrived with varied levels of knowledge about climate change, but are united by a desire to learn more about it as an issue of concern and are committed to learning ways to engage public audiences, particularly their peers.
With guidance and support from aquarium staff and an introduction to strategic communication theory, participants will develop an in-person presentation to share at three youth oriented conferences annually, create blog posts for the Aquariums website and a video to share through social media. Their messages will be shaped with four themes in mind :
- Our lives are connected to the ocean
- Climate change is affecting the ocean
- Communities are already working to mitigate disruptive impacts of climate change.
- Youth voices matter
Presentations, blog posts and videos will all encourage listeners or readers to join a citywide effort to reduce carbon emissions called Greenovate Boston. Greenovate Boston is a community-driven movement to get all Bostonians involved in reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, as outlined in the City’s Climate Action Plan. By laying out the necessary steps to reduce the causes of and to prepare for climate change, the Climate Action Plan gives Greenovate Boston a framework for building a greener, healthier, and more prosperous city. The youth voice in the Greenovate effort is growing and we aim to support that growth. In addition, the Greenovate website will allow for ClimaTEENS audiences to:
- Pledge to take part in carbon emissions reducing activities
- Invite others to join them in those activities
- Provide feedback and ideas for future activities and initiatives
Greenovate Boston also leverages a growing ambassador program that enables trained Greenovate Ambassadors to host public in-person meet ups where dialog is about climate change and how we can address it. ClimaTEENS will host a meet up for youth before August 2014.
We anticipate being able to measure impacts of ClimaTEENS efforts from direct website hits based on our message because the Greenovate website is enabled with a number of built in evaluative properties. For example, in-person audiences of ClimaTEENS presentations will be asked to visit the website and leave a comment referencing the presentation and mentioning an activity the presentation inspired them to participate in. Blog readers and those who watch ClimaTEENS’ video will be asked to reference ClimaTEENS using hash tags as they interact with the Greenovate website.
We’re enthusiastic about facilitating connections between youth and the ocean and hope to inspire them to contribute in meaningful ways to a growing community of ocean stewards. ClimaTEENS are helping to support and extend the New England Aquarium mission.
-- Heather Deschenes, Manager of Youth Development Programs at New England Aquarium