Teens Take Senators to School on Climate

ACE Fellows in DC
ACE Fellows in DC

On March 10, ACE traveled to our nation’s capital with students from Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, and Nebraska to Take the Senate to School on Climate, a campaign organized by our partner, Avaaz, to urge senators to reconsider their stance on climate science and take action to curb its causes. 

The effort comes after results from the first-ever national climate poll of children that showed 90% of 8th graders know that climate change is real and humans are causing it. This contrasts sharply with the finding that 90% of Republican senators deny the science of climate change. 

Watch this three-minute video to see what the day was like:

The stories from these students are powerful, and remind us that inaction on climate has real consequences for future generations. Read below for a snapshot of their experiences and how our leaders reacted.

ACE Action Fellow, Ian Feather, is a high school student at Cedar Ridge High School in North Carolina. He questioned his home state senator, Richard Burr, about his recent vote on the Senate floor that questions the science of man-made climate change.

Bailey Recktenwald, also a Fellow from NC, shared the connection between global warming and asthma, which affects an estimated 211,200 kids and 525,900 adults in North Carolina alone. She told her story of being a victim of childhood asthma and spoke of her brother, a US Marine, who faces the national security threat of climate change daily.

Nadia Sheppard, an ACE Fellow from Chapel Hill, NC, said in an interview Tuesday, “It's up to my generation to call people to action, because it's going to affect us. We're going to feel the effects and we're going to have to deal with it."

Jeremiah Thompson, an 8th grader from Stone Mountain, GA, expressed his concerns that his home state elected officials aren’t doing enough to take advantage of the growing green jobs sector there.

Students met with Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and staffers from the offices of Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). The group also dropped in on the offices of notorious climate deniers Rand Paul (R-KY) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) for impromptu meetings that were quickly declined.

The students had meetings to celebrate leaders pushing for action on climate, like Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Angus King (I-ME). Students were thrilled to join Senator Sanders in a personal meeting to discuss their ideas for action on climate, both nationally and internationally.

We’re grateful to our partners Avaaz, Mom’s Clean Air Force, Bold Nebraska, Al Jazeera+, and 350.org for this chance to give senators a new perspective on the climate crisis from those who will be affected most.

We at ACE believe in the power of youth to influence current leaders to take climate change seriously. In the year to come, we’ll be creating more opportunities for our students to create this type of change. Stay tuned for the next chapter!

Leah Qusba

Leah joined ACE in 2009 and is currently serving as Deputy Director. She brings with her more than 12 years of experience in the nonprofit sector as a relationship-builder, communicator and strategic problem solver. She manages ACE’s program, campaign, communications, media, and marketing strategy.