Scholarships Shape Future Leaders, at Climate Change Agents Camp

The Nevada County California Farmer’s Market featured a new crop July 25, 2014 -- a batch of climate change agents demonstrating ways to capture rain during the drought, to converse water, to save the birds, to show respect for one another and for the community of living things. Through performance art, music, science and art, they had come together as strangers and turned into the community’s teachers and advocates in a few short days. Their five-day overnight camp of intense activities helped them create lasting bonds while appreciating the importance of not just learning but doing.

Co-sponsored by the Nevada County Climate Change Coalition Education Committee and Full-Circle Learning, the camp offered merit and needs-based scholarships to students from schools throughout Nevada County, from 4th

The two classes – the Advocates and Visionaries – had engaged in daily field trips and lesson plan activities as the basis for their letters, gifts and community exhibits. They purchased and cooked a meal together and tracked the carbon miles of their meal, then visited a farm who only sells locally to compare the miles food travels when purchased nearby. They compared drought adaptation techniques there with those of a global partner, a subsistence farming community in Bois d’Avril, Haiti, and conducted a wisdom exchange. Their new wisdom included methods such as making a rain barrel, drip irrigation, and use of gray water. They complimented their partners on their patience and respect for one another, as the children at the distant school are helping their community address the devastation of a deforestation and drought. They conducted their local research and farm service at Starbright Farms, compliments of Sierra Harvest.

Daily presentations included Don Baldwin’s portrayal of John Muir to learn about Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite as examples of conflict resolution and working respectfully when differences of opinion arise; Rudy Darling’s owling tutorial (and finding a screech owl by the chicken coop) and Lars Ortegren’s magnanimous efforts to help student construct enough sturdy solar ovens to each take one home. As the owner of California Solar and Electric, Lars sacrificed his resources to help them create the ovens in an assembly line. Learning to drill, they found it difficult not to break the glass and lost two of the ovens. Still, they kept their commitment to give one oven to the Hospitality House to serve the homeless population, and several Change Performance art and music helped the children convey their important themes to the public at a picnic hosted for them by the Nevada County Climate Change Coalition in Pioneer Park and later at the Nevada City Farmer’s Market. They presented exhibits and, assisted by Kami Logan, Valerie Cassity and Moriah Fitzpatrick, performed several numbers: The March of the Hydrocarbons, Cool Summer Day, Changing Winds and Hoppy (based on the hit song Happy) to an audience of all ages.

Many activities helped the youth create their own code of ethics and identify the “habits-of-heart” needed to put their ideals into practice, whatever the task. For example, before each meal, they nominated one another for practicing respect. Nominees had the pleasure of serving others the food at that meal. Other strategies as well influenced both the peer culture and strengthened the focus of the projects. For example, they timed their showers and made pie charts to measure their own water conservation and share the restroom use. Funding for the camp came primarily from the Forest Issues Group, California Solar and Electric, the Audubon Society, Rondal Snodgrass and other coalition members, and Sierra Harvest. In-kind support came from Nevada City Retreats, SPD, Grocery Outlet, Earth Justice Ministries and the Baha’i Community. Said one parent, “We live far from town. We were not sure we were doing the right thing to expose our children to nature as a first priority. Now that we see what they can do with this knowledge, we know for sure they are learning important lessons about life.” The campers hoped their audience learned as well. As Jonathan Whitcomb closed the program, he urged, “We hope you too will become Climate Change Agents.”

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