Adirondack – Finger Lakes Grant Awarded to Elevate High School Climate Education and Watershed Experiences

Sep 8, 2023 | Featured, News, The Latest

Paul Smiths, NY – Paul Smith’s College announced it has received a $160,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) to increase student climate literacy and support place-based solutions to climate and water issues in the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes regions of New York State. The funds will enable the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute and partners at the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and The Wild Center to support teachers and educate students about stewardship and climate resilience and to develop watershed experiences for youth.

The project, Youth for Climate and Water Action, establishes a cohort of six school districts in the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes that will explore and compare climate change pressures that are degrading water resources in the Great Lakes watershed.

“NOAA is excited to work with Paul Smith’s College and their partners” said Sarah Waters, Program Coordinator for NOAA’s Great Lakes Bay Watershed Education and Training Program. “The project connects high school students in two distinct geographies linked by water – the Adirondacks and Finger Lakes – to deepen their understanding of climate change impacts on freshwater resources across the Great Lakes Basin and understand the risks to the Great Lakes watershed.”

Project partners will work directly with high school teachers to develop locally relevant watershed educational experiences that will include classroom-based lessons and outdoor field experiences that are student-centered. Students will explore traditional knowledge about water resources and activities that respect historic community values and consider issues of environmental justice and equity. Youth from both geographies will convene over the course of the project to synthesize water quality data, compare climate risks across the regions, and propose solutions to local water and climate issues.

“Climate change is impacting water resources across the globe” said Zoë Smith, Executive Director of the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute.  “The goal of Youth for Climate and Water Action is to help students and teachers build an understanding of actions that will improve water quality and climate resilience in their own community.”

Teachers will participate in professional development workshops throughout the project consisting of outdoor field-based experiences and training in topics such as water quality science, environmental justice, climate communication, and more.

“We will be supporting teachers to deliver climate change education using active and experiential learning techniques and locally relevant issues that are important to students” said Nadia Harvieux, Associate Director of Educational Programs at the Finger Lakes Institute. “This gives students experience in civic action, which builds collaborative problem-solving skills.”

 “This project gives students in rural communities in the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes an opportunity to explore leadership roles and pathways to future careers in STEM, education, policy and sustainability” said Jen Kretser, Director of Climate Initiatives at The Wild Center. “The multi-regional aspect of the project also allows for cross-school sharing of climate challenges and solutions,”

The NOAA B-WET program is a competitive grant program that promotes Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences: activities driven by rigorous academic learning standards that aim to increase participants’ understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ecosystems. To read more about the NOAA B-WET program, please visit

The mission of the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute is to protect clean water, conserve habitat and support the health and well-being of people in the Adirondacks through scientific inquiry, stewardship and real-world experiences for students.

The Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is dedicated to translating knowledge and research about the Finger Lakes environment into collaborative action through research, education, outreach and stewardship within the Finger Lakes watershed community.

The Wild Center’s mission is to Ignite an enduring passion for the Adirondacks where people and nature thrive together and offer an example for the world. Their global youth climate program convenes, engages and inspires young people and educators to learn about climate science, impacts and local solutions to take action in their local communities – learn more at

At Paul Smith’s College, it’s about the experience. As the only four-year institution of higher education located in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York, Paul Smith’s provides real-world, hands-on learning in fields such as business and hospitality, culinary management, forestry, environmental sciences and natural resources. We are able to draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. Our community of resourceful, enterprising, supportive and adventurous individuals collectively provide experiential education, student support in the classroom and beyond, and meaningful opportunities for our alumni. We pride ourselves on research and advocacy on issues that improve our planet and the lives of the people who inhabit it. Learn more at »



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