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Urban Climate Action Network Brings Students Together Across the Country to Tackle Climate Change

New National Climate Change Youth Corps Launches, Selects Teams in American Samoa, Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Maryland


The National Aquarium, in partnership with the American Planning Association (APA), the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE), announced today the five teams that will be taking part in the new Urban Climate Action Network (UCAN) program. UCAN is a national youth corps created to empower teens concerned about climate change within their communities to take action. The three-year program encourages students to connect with their peers to discuss environmental, social and economic challenges and, ultimately, work to make their communities better places to live, work and play.

Groups of high school-aged students across the country, sponsored by a qualified organization and with the supervision of a dedicated adult leader, were encouraged to apply. Students nationwide submitted video applications describing climate change issues facing their communities, pitching their original ideas on how to tackle them. After thorough deliberation, five teams were selected to participate: Samoana High School Parent Teacher Association in Pago Pago, American Samoa; Parks and People Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland; Coppin Memorial AME Church in Chicago, Illinois; Carter Tabernacle CME Church in Orlando, Florida; and Kickapoo High School Science Club in Powhattan, Kansas.

"This is a truly unique program that will expose youth not only to real-time climate change data, but also provide them with the tools and training to effectuate change," said Kris Hoellen, National Aquarium senior vice president and chief conservation officer. "We are excited to see the growth in the students over the next three years and to see the change they bring to communities that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change."

Each team will travel to the National Aquarium in Baltimore this summer for a week-long workshop to learn about climate change, discuss current climate science challenges with science professionals, build leadership and practical skills, and explore careers in conservation science, urban planning, communications, civic engagement and more. Following their time in Baltimore, the teams will return to their respective cities with the skills needed to create action plans addressing the real problems their communities face. In addition, over the course of the three-year program, all five teams will have access to a technical expert from APA and will be eligible for small grants to help turn their plans into reality, providing them the opportunity to bring about meaningful change.

The selected teams in American Samoa, Baltimore, Chicago, Orlando and Powhattan will also assist in further developing the UCAN program, by serving as mentors for future participating teams. In 2019, an additional four teams will be selected from various cities across the country to join the inaugural teams, further expanding the program’s reach and providing the opportunity for participants to collaborate and share insight with like-minded teens.

To learn more about UCAN, visit This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [grant MG-10-17-0012-17].

Conservation, Education