2024 GLISA Small Grant: Elevating Youth Leadership and Peer-Learning to Support Climate Adaptation in West Michigan Lakeshore Frontline Communities

Project Team

Project Summary

Young people are vulnerable to climate change impacts which affect their immediate and lifelong physical and mental health. This vulnerability is especially high in youth living in frontline communities who may also experience non-climate challenges such as racism, poverty and food insecurity. For this reason, educating, supporting, and engaging young people is an essential climate adaptation strategy. Through this project, Grand Valley State University (GVSU) aims to engage and empower high school and college students in Muskegon County, MI. The project team will create a climate change curriculum that covers climate data and technologies and includes peer-to-peer learning opportunities and community-based research. They will also create an education support system for local high school students. This will include mentorship, experiential learning projects, presentations, and training/materials for their teachers. This project affirms that universities, community colleges, and schools can play an important role in linking climate science to young people and their local communities.

To learn more about this project, visit GVSU’s project webpage. 

Anticipated Outcomes
  • New climate change curriculum and courses at Muskegon Community College (MCC)
  • A pathway for MCC students to transfer credits to GVSU to study climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resiliency
  • New lesson plans and labs for GVSU and MCC students teaching key climate science and adaptation planning concepts
  • Internships for MCC and GVSU students at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council
  • Training, lesson plans, materials, and professional development credit hours for high-school teachers in Muskegon
  • Climate adaptation career events for MCC students
  • Mentoring, classroom presentations, and career and college planning events for high-school student
Anticipated Impacts
  • This work will boost STEM education in Muskegon County schools and offer resources to students and their teachers. 
  • High school and college students will have a broad support system for their education and  empowerment.
  • Youth will gain the skills and confidence to pursue higher education and climate careers.
  • This work will create lasting pathways for climate education and youth mobilization. 
  • Youth will become intergenerational leaders teaching their families about climate impacts and adaptations.
  • Youth that are educated and empowered will improve the capacity for the broader community to adapt to climate change. 
  • Other universities and colleges will be able to learn from this new model of collaborative teaching and peer-to-peer mentoring.
GLISA Contribution

GLISA funded this 2024 small grant project and will help integrate GLISA products into the project. GLISA will train the project team on PIVOT, CHaMP, and Great Lakes Climatologies data. GLISA will also provide feedback on draft lesson plans integrating these tools and data. Finally, GLISA will present at local events such as the GVSU Climate Change Education Solutions Summit, the GVSU Climate Expo, and/or career events for high schoolers.

GLISA Contact

Rachel Kelly, Climatologist, rachkel@umich.edu