Student-led Environmental Conference Coming to Newark

Youth Environmental SummitImage via Delaware Division of Community Affairs

DELAWARE — On March 2, more than 450 Delaware high school students are expected to gather in Newark for the fourth annual Delaware Youth Environmental Summit (YES!) to learn more about today’s top environmental issues and challenges, and to network with their peers and guest speakers. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is a fourth-year sponsor of the event, which includes keynote speaker Secretary Shawn M. Garvin and presentations by DNREC staff.

The student-led conference will be held at the University of Delaware’s Clayton Hall Conference Center in Newark and is offered free of charge, with lunch included, for Delaware high school students and educators who are advisors to school teams. Preregistration is open now through Friday, Feb. 24 at DelawareYES.org. Attendance is limited.

“Many of today’s young people are stepping up to take leading roles as environmental advocates for the health and future of our planet as we gather together to take on the challenge of climate change,” said Secretary Garvin. “DNREC has proudly supported YES! since its inception in 2020. We encourage Delaware’s up-and-coming environmental stewards to attend this year’s YES! summit and learn more about today’s key environmental issues such as environmental justice, and to make their voices heard as they seek a seat at the table determining their future.”

Planned by students, YES! aims to inspire youth-led action and environmental leadership through keynote speakers, more than two dozen breakout workshops, and nonprofit and agency exhibitors. In addition to Secretary Garvin, guests and speakers include U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt-Rochester, Governor John Carney, members of the General Assembly, and Nessy Cherazard, a 15-year-old environmental activist currently in her senior year at Sussex Technical High School. This year’s topics include green schools, electric school buses, food waste, climate change, wildlife and hunting conservation, clean water, STEM, sustainability, plastic pollution/zero waste, green careers and college majors, beekeeping, clean energy and advocacy.

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“As a youth summit leader, I’m exceptionally proud of the summit we created this year for Delaware students by Delaware students,” said Nitya Patel, the summit’s 2023 student coordinator. “Our generation is disproportionately impacted by climate change, and it’s time to act!”

YES! was created by a coalition of representatives from educators at Delaware schools, non-profit environmental organizations, and public agencies to provide the opportunity for teens to meet, learn and share their ideas on environmental issues of concern and to develop action plans for their schools and communities. The inaugural conference in February 2020 was attended by student teams from more than 20 Delaware schools representing all three counties and more than 270 students. In 2021, a virtual summit was held with more than 30 Delaware high schools represented. More than 350 students from 18 Delaware high schools from across the state were represented in 2022.

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