Opinion: Climate Corps is empowering youth to speak up for climate action in Santa Monica

Climate Corps, a summer program about engaging with climate action and change, is something I did over the summer and changed me positively.
<a href="" target="_self">Ryan Kim</a>

Ryan Kim

August 22, 2023

As curious faces and hungry people enter Santa Monica’s farmer’s markets, people in blue shirts and hats walk around the market to present and receive surveys. Climate Action Santa Monica held its 8th Climate Corps from June 20 to July 20. 

My overall experience with Climate Corps was transformative, as it helped me gain the confidence I need to speak about what I believe is right. It made me open up a lot more, and improve at communicating my beliefs. Climate Corps manager and director Amy Butte was instrumental in helping us learn about climate-related issues and providing us with valuable insights.

Climate Corps is a regional climate action for those aged 15 – 21 bring climate policy and action to life in Santa Monica’s community. It started in 2016 to educate people about climate and community engagement. This summer, I have been a member of Climate Corps, and my time in this program has educated me and opened various opportunities for me over the 5 week program. 

In training sessions, I learned how to approach people, since we were surveying the public in at farmer’s markets. During the five weeks of Climate Corps, we would have to complete 12 events to pass the program. During training, I also met our supervisors, Nancy Sanchez, Mario Melgarejo, and Jasmine Contreras, who would make sure we were safe during those farmer’s markets.

With preparations and training completed, we embarked on our first surveying experience. The first farmers market we surveyed was on Saturday, June 24. We used the tablets to ask questions and document responses. Even though this was a nerve-wracking experience, the community was supportive and gave tips to help us. In addition to surveying people, we directed them to our booth, where we had flyers and more information about the questions we asked. 

Each week, Climate Corps would hold meetings we could go to and prepare for upcoming shifts, learn new things, or have speakers, such as Streets For All founder Michael Schneider, prepare us for upcoming conferences with boards.

Climate Corps also gave us an advocacy project to work on throughout the program. Essentially, we would find a project to work on over four weeks, and present our projects at a showcase for others to use in the future. The advocacy project could be anything from a presentation to an educational game.

One huge aspect of the advocacy project was presenting the data we collected to the Santa Monica Unified School District school board, the city council of Santa Monica, and at Clean Power Alliance (CPA) meetings. As a part of my advocacy project, I attended a city council meeting on June 27, and spoke about Climate Corps and the feedback I had received from the community. 

At the end of the program, we had gathered over 300 surveys from people, with positive responses for most of the questions. According to our survey results, 66% were familiar with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Overall, people were familiar with the subject, but said they need more green bins and focus on electricity and fossil fuel use in homes.

As a result of Climate Corps, I learned so much and gained so much experience. It’s been amazing as I got to know the people I worked with and got the confidence to survey people. I recommend this to anyone who wants confidence in public speaking and learning about the climate. 

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