Solar panels on the school roof, fewer cars in the parking lot, more local food in the cafeteria, less waste headed to the landfill, and a statewide rally for the planet are just a few of the projects led by more than 60 Vermont and New Hampshire teens this year. These local high school students are part of VEEP’s first ever Youth Climate Leaders Academy, bringing together like-minded students to work on climate action.

“I am becoming increasingly inspired and passionate about what we’re doing through meeting people interested in the same thing,” said one YCLA attendee.

Student teams attended a two-day kick-off retreat in early December, featuring hands-on workshops to build skills — including  goal setting, leadership styles, media and messaging, running campaigns, and data analysis — as well as work time for teams to develop their projects. “This academy helped solidify the ideas of our project,” wrote one student attendee. “It helped us narrow down how and what to do.”

“We came here with basically nothing but an open mind,” said another, “but now we have a real plan.”

YCLA teams have spent the winter and spring implementing their projects in their school communities with support from teachers and VEEP staff. “All of the adults were supporting, accepting, and educating,” said a student. “They helped with writing our plans and prompting problems as well as solutions.”

Teams will reconvene on May 23 to report on their progress, celebrate, and plan for next steps.

Registration information for next year’s academy will be available soon. Head over to our YCLA page to sign up for updates!