The Center for the Environment at Catawba College recently posted an 8½ -minute video on its website about the 2012 National Environmental Summit, which brought high school students from across the country to the Catawba campus to learn how they could use their talents to effect positive change in the world.
John Wear, executive director of the Center, taped a number of the summit activities and interviewed about a dozen of the participants near the end of the session last July. "Nearly all of the students said they hadn't had any experience being interviewed," he said, "but if you really believe in what you're saying, you come off as genuine and that makes the interview good."
Wear noted that accurately conveying the various aspects of the summit has been a challenge. "We knew we had a good thing for students, but we realized it was difficult to explain," he said. "We focus on two areas: We help them learn how they can use their own personal talents to become part of the solution, and we help them develop leadership skills that will serve them well both in their schools and in their careers later on."
The interviews confirmed for Wear that the summit has the potential to transform lives. "I knew we had done a good job, but the interviews made me realize we had done a really good job in terms of our ability to have an impact on these young people."
Wear was so pleased with the taped material that he determined he would learn how to edit and assemble the video himself. The finished product can be viewed below or on the Center's website: www.CenterForTheEnvironment.org.
It shows students doing everything from tracking turtles as the students paddle in kayaks on the Fred Stanback Jr. Ecological Preserve to creating plays to help audiences learn about environmental solutions; from role playing in interactive workshops to listening intently as a professor guides them through a focus group.
Students talk about the parts of the summit they liked best. Student Jennah Jones of Chapel Hill goes into detail about a focus group called "Animals: Near and Far" that allowed the participants to get hands-on experience studying wildlife biology through methods like game cameras and bird banding.
Zahra Kahn of China Grove speaks with enthusiasm about Rocky Mountain Institute's workshop on collaboration. (RMI partnered with the Center on the summit.) She found an interactive workshop, which allowed students to assume the role of community citizens, who work to find solutions to an environmental challenge, especially helpful.
Shaina Robinson of Ann Arbor, Mich., liked the fact that the students came from different geographical areas but had a common passion for the environment. "I liked that we could all connect" and learn about different environmental perspectives from each other, she said. "I learned so much that I can take back and use in everyday life."
Alex Wilson of Lake Wylie, S.C., spoke of a number of activities that he found helpful, from sessions on whole systems thinking to the presentation by Doc Hendley, founder of the Wine to Water Foundation which provides clean drinking water to people throughout the world.
"Everything has been more than I could have asked for," Wilson says. "It's one of the best things that has ever happened to me."
The Center for the Environment at Catawba College was founded in 1996 to provide education and outreach centered on prevalent environmental challenges and to foster community-oriented sustainable solutions that can serve as a model for programs throughout the country. For more information, visit www.CenterForTheEnvironment.org or www.CampaignForCleanAir.org.
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