Environmental forum aims to bring awareness to teens and children

SOLANA BEACH — Proclaiming March as sustainability month in Solana Beach, the city and its Clean and Green Committee kicked off a series of events with a Focus on Youth forum March 4 at Solana Presbyterian Church.
“This is the first forum to engage the younger generation to think about their future and the role the environment plays in that future,” Lane Sharman, a key coordinator of the event, said.
“I think they all understand climate science, but many wonder, ‘Am I powerless to make a difference?’” he said.
“We are reaching out to inspire young people to get involved environmentally,” Marilee McLean from the Sierra Club said.
Attendees were first invited to visit information tables that featured a variety of organizations, such as Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Chevron, the Surfrider Foundation, Nature & Culture International, the Sierra Club of San Diego and the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation.
Three local leaders were then honored for their dedication to environmental sustainability. Receiving awards were Peter Zahn for his role in creating the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce, Jackie Durward for her global education class at Skyline Elementary and Steve Goetsch for mobilizing the region to understand the Interstate 5 expansion project.
The evening also included a panel discussion titled Paths to Making a Difference in the Future to help young adults find a green career or volunteer path.
“There is a career in environmental sustainability,” Sharman said.
Panelists included Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner, retired Adm. Len Hering from the University of San Diego, Durward, Sandra Kirtland, a scientist with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Jana Kopyciok from the California Center for Sustainable Energy.
The event targeted students in middle and high school as well as college-age young adults. “At first we started off amateur by sending cards to schools, but we got very little response,” Sharman said. “Then we went to Facebook.”
Other events planned throughout the month include Santa Fe Christian Schools students cleaning up public areas March 11, a program for students and parents at Skyline on March 17 and a variety of activities at Fletcher Cove on March 26 that include a beach clean-up by Earl Warren Middle School students, a Green Fair from 2 to 6 p.m. and Earth Hour, beginning at 8 p.m.
Visit the Solana Beach Clean and Green Facebook page for information.

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