How many young Greta Thunbergs, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez’s, or Vanessa Nakates are there in central New Mexico? How do we find them, train them, and mobilize them as the next generation of leaders and change-makers in the face of the climate crisis?
For over 30 years, Talking Talons Youth Leadership has provided enriching environmental education and leadership programs to New Mexico Youth.
Beginning in 2022, Talking Talons is developing a new Longitudinal Program Model. The goal is to provide a continuum of support to students who are passionate about addressing climate change, staying engaged with them from 5th grade through 12th grade and connecting them with training, resources, mentorship, and leadership opportunities that will set them up for success and empower them to take action on issues they care about.
The challenges of climate change that we face at all scales of society are urgent and complex. The next generation of leaders will need many tools at their disposal in order to approach these challenges in an innovative, strategic and interdisciplinary way.
This includes knowledge of science and history, an understanding of politics and activism, skills in technology and media and leadership and teamwork skills. These young leaders will need to think in systems, and to know how to identify the leverage points where they can make a real difference.
Through the continuum of Talking Talon’s new program, students will have a chance to grow these skills while learning about a variety of career paths and ways of engaging with socioenvironmental issues.
This Longitudinal Program Model will support the work of our community partners and strengthen our collective ability to tackle the challenges of climate change by mobilizing local youth to become a powerful, innovative and effective generation of leaders and problem solvers.
5th graders at Apache, San Antonito and A. Montoya Elementary Schools (Albuquerque Public Schools) are part of an Afterschool Club that is focused on Connecting to Nature, Leadership, Team-Building and Climate Action. These young Environmental Investigators get their hands dirty and explore a wide range of topics related to climate change. The two primary Club goals are to build a Climate Action Team and encourage each student to find their specific environmental interest, whether that be Forests, Oceans, Farming, Animal life, Biodiversity, Architecture, etc.
Middle School and High School
6th graders at Kennedy and Roosevelt Middle Schools are starting the Environmental Leader Teams (ELT)that will continue through 7th and 8th grade. The ELT builds on the 5th grade model, with more extensive focus on each students’ specific environmental interests and potential career paths, deepening their Leadership skills and embracing greater Climate Action.
Manzano High School: while it will be a couple of years before the Middle School ELT members will move up to High School, the 2023-2024 goal is to recruit Manzano students to begin to mentor the Middle School students.
climate and WATERSHED EDUCATION
Talking Talons was awarded a 16-month EPA Watershed Stewards award to deliver 30 place-based watershed education field trips. Students learned about the Middle Rio Grande watershed, applied critical thinking and problem-solving skills and took action to protect their watershed through on-site community service projects.
Partners included: Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District, Environmental Education New Mexico, Sandia Mountain Natural History Center, New Mexico MESA, Hawks Aloft, KUNM, Friends of Valle De Oro.
Talking Talons Youth Leadership participates in the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps program annually. This program provides entry level summer jobs to high schoolers, giving them a head start on their careers in conservation. Talking Talons supports the YCC as an integral component of our Longitudinal Program Model.
During Summer 2023 our YCC program partnered with the Friends of the Sandia Mountains (FOSM), the Village of Tijeras and Bernalillo County Open Space to create and maintain hiking trails, culling out invasive species and general land stewardship activities.