Climate Advocate: Taylor S. ’22 attends The Climate Museum’s Summer Internship Program
Designed for students who want to speak up about climate change and learn to advocate for a more climate safe future, The Climate Museum’s Online High School Internship is awarded to just 25 high school students. In early Spring 2021, Emma Willard School student Taylor S. ’22 was awarded a spot in the summer program.
Over the course of three months, students explored climate communications, science, social justice, advocacy tools, and climate arts. Their goal was to learn how to advocate for a more climate safe future while inspiring others to join in collective action. Taylor was already interested in climate change work. She had been one of the students in Science Instructor and Sara Lee Schupf Family Chair in Curriculum Excellence And Innovation Megan Labbate’s first iteration of the Science and Society: Water Quality and Climate Change class. She says, “from that class I was so inspired—I was like this is the best thing ever!”
Taylor was also encouraged by Dr. Katherine Holt and the Nature Writing and Beyond: Environmental Imagination and Environmental Justice class, who sent information about the internship to students enrolled in both. Taylor cites these teachers, and their classes, as important: “I want to mention how much Dr. Holt and Ms. Labbate have made a difference,” she says, noting that “they made those classes themselves, not from something that already existed.”
For Taylor, Dr. Holt’s email about the opportunity came at the perfect time. Climate change advocacy is one of many interests for the senior, and she was on the lookout for something similar to participate in. This internship, usually in-person, normally wouldn’t have been possible due to distance constraints, but since it was now a virtual experience, she applied.
“I added a different perspective. I’m from Jamaica, so that’s different from kids going to school in Brooklyn and all the different boroughs,” she says, since many of the other students in the internship were from the New York City area. “It was fun for me to share my perspective while still learning about issues in New York.”
While the first six weeks of the program were spent learning by interacting with mentors, museum staff, and speakers from organizations working in climate science, for the final six weeks students chose one of two tracks: “Climate Speaks Arts” and “Climate Advocacy.”
“I’m more of a speaker,” Taylor laughs, so she chose the advocacy track where students learn how to advocate for climate progress through civic action. Her independent project focused on greenwashing, a topic she had covered previously in Emma Willard School’s student-run newspaper The Clock (The article explains, “Greenwashing is when companies put words like ‘natural’ or ‘green’ on their packaging to entice consumers into buying products that they think are sustainable.”). At the end of the internship, students presented their independent research to the Climate Museum’s Director, Miranda Massie, parents, and their peers in the program.
“I think this will motivate how I think—it already has,” says Taylor, thinking about how the experience has influenced her personal advocacy and the future. “I’m very conscious of the choices I make because of the internship and the [Science and Society] course.”
The program helped hone her already-evolving voice. “When I came to Emma I feel like I really learned how to use my voice for things that I care about. Climate justice happens to be one of those things. I’ve definitely taken things I’ve learned in the internship in terms of advocacy and I'm not afraid to speak up for things that I believe in or to argue, gently! I think it will frame what I do in terms of I’m not going to sit back and watch. I’m going to speak up.”