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History Colorado Center Hosts Its First Smithsonian National Youth Summit

Special thanks for this guest post to Liz Cook, Environmental Educator at History Colorado.

We were thrilled that the History Colorado Center was to be selected as one of the nine Smithsonian Affiliate sites to participate in the National Youth Summit: Dust Bowl on October 17, 2012.  Over 150 high school and middle school students from around Colorado participated, including students from western Colorado, Denver, and the Colorado Springs’ neighborhoods that were impacted by this summer’s Waldo Canyon Fire.  Students watched the live broadcast from the National Museum of American History, which included insights from Dust Bowl survivor Cal Crabill, who grew up near Holly, on the plains of eastern Colorado.  In the second half of the Youth Summit, presenters made connections between current environmental issues in Colorado and the lessons of the Dust Bowl, including hydraulic fracturing, wildfire, climate change and water. Media partner Rocky Mountain PBS taped the presentations, which will be available online for future use by students and teachers.  The Youth Summit was a perfect opportunity for us to explore these topics, as our “Living West” exhibition (opening in 2013) will focus on how natural systems have impacted human history and how human choices have impacted the environment in Colorado, and will include stories of the Dust Bowl in southeastern Colorado, and current issues in our state.  

Schools Attending

  • Roaring Fork High School, Carbondale, CO (Garfield County Libraries)-10 students
  • Grand Valley High School, Parachute, CO (Garfield County Libraries)-10 students
  • Dora Moore School, Denver Public Schools, Denver-87 students
  • George Washington High School, Denver Public Schools-15 students
  • Coronado High School, Colorado Springs School District 11- 17 students 

Local Youth Summit Presentations

  • “Colorado’s Water Future”
    Kristin Maharg, Program Manager, Colorado Foundation for Water Education 
  • “Catastrophic Wildfires in Colorado”  
    Einar Jensen, Life Safety Educator South Metro Fire Rescue Authority
  • Hydraulic Fracturing: Folly or Fortune?
    Adrianne Kroepsch, Graduate Research Assistant, Center of the American West, and Doctoral Student, Environmental Studies, University of Colorado
  • “Snowpack in the Rocky Mountains”
    Ryan Vachon, Director at Earth Initiatives and affiliate with INSTAAR (Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado)

The National Museum of American History partnered with the National Endowment for the Humanities, WETA television, and Smithsonian Affiliations to present the National Youth Summit on the Dust Bowl. More information on upcoming National Youth Summits at http://americanhistory.si.edu/nys

climate change online conference

Ginkgo biloba  Ginkgo biloba

The Smithsonian addresses the global challenge of climate change in a range of ways, including through exhibitions and scientific research. 

From September 29 through October 1, 2009, the Smithsonian will offer an education online conference on climate change to allow teachers and the general public to participate in the Institution’s investigations, meet and question Smithsonian curators and scientists, and deepen our understanding of this critical issue.  Alongside Smithsonian scientists and curators, you’ll look at the issues surrounding climate change from the perspectives of science, history, and art. Registration is free, and now open. 

The conference is broadly organized around three topics: Evidence, Impact, and Response to climate change.  Participants will sample  some fascinating Smithsonian research–everything from an artist’s attempts to document sustainability issues, to a paleoclimatologist’s findings about prehistoric climate change and why it matters, to a discussion about how polar bears are faring in our warming world. 

Curators, researchers, and educators from the Archives of American Art, the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the National Zoo will conduct twelve different live sessions, and several other units will deliver content in a “virtual exhibit hall.”  The conference features talks, interactives, and resources such as lesson plans and classroom activities, to help make this knowledge as accessible and usable as possible. (See the full agenda.)

 Affiliations is pleased to acknowledge the participation of educator Paisley Cato from the Western Center for Archeology and Paleontology, our Affiliate in Hemet, California.  Paisley worked side-by-side with Smithsonian educators throughout the summer to develop educational materials to complement the conference.

How can Affiliates be involved?  Like the virtual conference on Abraham Lincoln which took place in February (replay at smithsonianeducation.org/lincoln), Affiliates are encouraged to act as hosting sites for shared viewing and discussion with their  local area teachers, educators, and the scientific community.  Follow and comment on the climate change blog, or follow updates on Twitter (#SIClimate) and Facebook (Smithsonian Education).