The first Youth Climate Challenge was held in conjunction with the 2019 Southwestern Tribal Climate Change Summit and hosted over 8 youth teams from communities across the Southwestern United States and Mexico. This Challenge provided an opportunity to come together, focus on climate strategies and solutions, and advance resilience efforts throughout the Southwest and North America. Following the Challenge, students were offered the opportunity to propose their projects for funding to implement. The following project has been awarded support for the 2019-2020 year.
About the Inaugural Youth Climate Challenge:
In collaboration with partners from across the region, the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, Pala Band of Mission Indians, Climate Science Alliance, and the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals convened the second Southwestern Tribal Climate Change Summit in August 2019. The first Youth Climate Challenge was held in conjunction with this event and hosted over 8 youth teams from communities across the Southwestern United States and Mexico. This Challenge provided an opportunity to come together, focus on climate strategies and solutions, and advance resilience efforts throughout the Southwest and North America. Following the Challenge, students were offered the opportunity to propose their projects for funding to implement. The following project has been awarded support for the 2019-2020 year.
Ventura River Watershed Youth Coalition
Team Members: Tigran Nahabedian, Hannah Little, Alex Alvarez, Zachary Danino, Catie Jo Larkin, Bella Slosberg, Vahagn Nahabedian (Chaperone), Tracy Wilson (Chaperone)
Community of Impact: Ojai, California
Our Story: We are a team from Ojai California, which is near the city of Santa Barbara. It is a small town with about 7,500 people, and the Ojai Valley has approximately 30,000 people. Ojai is primarily an agricultural town, and the main crops are citrus. However, Ojai is running into a problem, our local Ventura river watershed is being depleted rapidly, which is a major issue because all of our water for crops as well as our drinking water comes from it. Ojai is currently in a historic drought with water levels that are so low that is hasn’t been seen since the 60’s. As a result of this a major wildfire, the Thomas Fire, swept through Ojai and destroyed many homes and even our school. We aren’t the only ones who have been affected by the drought; many of our local plants and animals are being outcompeted for resources by invasive species that shouldn’t be there. One example is Arundo, which is a tall bamboo-like plant that has one of the highest rates of water use in our watershed. This water is being stolen from our local plants. Also, we have noticed that there is a large amount of litter and graffiti in the watershed, which is affecting our water quality.
Our Solution: An issue is that people don’t associate climate change with the effects on our watershed. Because of this, the first step of our plan is to educate our local community about the threats to our watershed. We will go to local schools to do presentations about the watershed, as well as start a social media campaign about our watershed. We also have an opportunity to reach an audience of over 2,000 at the MountainFilm On Tour which will be held at our school on September 21st. We believe this is crucial because education is the first step to making change. Our second step in our plan is community action. We will organize three annual volunteer cleanups in which we will be removing trash and invasive plants from our watershed. Our goal is to have these volunteer events at the Ventura River Preserve and Lake Casitas Recreation Area. Find them on Instagram @ventura_watershed
About the The Youth Climate Challenge: An immersive experience that connects students with leading climate scientists, practitioners, artists, and fellow youth. In challenge teams, students are guided and challenged to identify and analyze the climate impacts in their own communities. Together, they investigate climate strategies and solutions and formulate action plans to implement in their sphere of influence.
To learn more about the Youth Climate Challenge, please visit: https://www.climatesciencealliance.org/youth-climate-challenge
To sponsor the Youth Climate Challenge program and the next generation of environmental changemakers, please visit: https://www.climatesciencealliance.org/support