The National Park Service (NPS) is spending $140,368 to fly 10 students to Sydney, Australia so they can experience a "climate change journey."
The government announced last week they are paying for the group to attend the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Parks Congress (WPC), a global conference on conservation this Fall.
The funding will go towards "youth engagement" at the conference, which will feature a "Responding to Climate Change Stream" and a "Climate Change Journey" initiative. Ten students will be selected from Colorado State University (CSU) and universities in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Bamako, Mali to attend.
"The NPS will partner with CSU to invite students from around the world to participate in the WPC and take a Climate Change Journey," the grant announcement said. "Journeys are identified pathways that young people may follow to fully engage in a particular topic related to climate change."
The "journey" involves attending sessions on climate change, including a "hope" session and one on "perceptions," which will examine climate change skeptics.
The students are expected to take notes and be able to summarize what they learned to the "session leader."
"To enhance their experiences and contribute to the stream dialogue, students will be responsible for taking notes during a smaller number of attended sessions," the funding announcement said. "Each student will then summarize outcomes from each session in collaboration with the session leader and [Climate Change] Stream planning team leaders."
"Students will provide insight and feedback on what they have learned, their reactions, and experiences throughout the Congress, culminating in a closing Climate Change Journey session on the final day of concurrent sessions," it said.
The principal investigator leading the trip is Scott Denning, a professor of atmospheric science at CSU. He will serve as a mentor for the students and deliver a presentation on "effective engagement about climate change with skeptical audiences."
Another all-day workshop will focus on how to best talk about climate change, examining "storytelling, the use of common language, concrete metaphor, and authenticity."
The WPC will take place from Nov. 12 to Nov. 19 in Sydney, Australia. This year’s theme is "Parks, People, Planet: Inspiring Solutions."
The NPS will finance the entire trip, paying for the students’ airfare, hotel, conference registration fee of $385 per student, and "reimbursements for student attendees."
The grant also includes funding to employ a graphic recorder, a person to draw the group’s ideas on paper, to "help facilitate the youth participation at the Congress."
The NPS is leading the "Responding to Climate Change" seminar at the conference, and will work closely with the university to mentor the students, and run a "Video Reflections Booth" at the event.
The purpose of the trip is to "give young people the opportunity to meet renowned environmental conservation professionals, share their passion and experiences, and become exposed to innovative ideas and career paths."