Peg Watson speaks with Emily Jenkins about the Sc3
EMILY JENKINS: This is Emily Jenkins with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Today is Monday June 28th, and I'm interviewing Peg Watson about the Student Climate and Conservation Congress.
What gave you the idea to come up with this Congress?
PEG WATSON: Oh, it was actually not my idea. Steve Chase contacted me at the Green Schools Alliance as a result of his daughter Amy who mentioned our fledgling organization to him.
Amy was a student at Mercersburg. They were doing something called the Green Cup Challenge. The Green Cup Challenge was an interschool energy challenge that three New England boarding schools started, and it started growing. It was really starting to get so large they couldn't handle it. And the Green Schools Alliance, which is an organization that was created by schools for schools, and is currently-- has a membership of 2,000 schools in 37 states and 10 countries, including a school in Shanghai and one in Moscow, all by word of mouth, all within about two-and-a-half years, as a result of the Green Cup Challenge, which the Green Schools Alliance is now administering. It is our program as of 2007. As a result of that, Amy Chase mentioned to Steve, our organization, he reached out and said, we'd love to do something with students, and we've been looking for an organization like this for 10 years for the kind of organization that would have the kind of reach that we have, addresses K-12 schools, that's public, private and independent schools across the nation, and to do something that had to do with students and the environment. And so together we conjured the Student Climate and Conservation Congress, Sc3.
EMILY JENKINS: How do you choose the different speakers that you want to line up for the year's activities?
PEG WATSON: Well, that is largely a result of the agenda that we set, and that goes back to Joe Piehuta. Joe was an inspiration, a guide. He was our arrow, as we created the first inaugural Sc3, the Congress last year. We came months before the Congress and we worked through with Joe and with Steve and with some others, my husband, who is Rob Watson, who is the founder of LEED, the green building rating system. We brainstormed-- and Marc Magnus-Sharpe, who is the Dean of students for the United Nations international school, who is the Dean of students for Sc3, and again that harkens back to the Green Schools Alliance, an organization created by schools, working with and through schools. So, of course, Marc would be the person to coordinate the students being the Dean of students of his own school.
So with Joe's guidance, we set an agenda, keeping the end goal in mind, and every day has a theme, and all working toward the end result, which is awareness and action. And so the speakers aligned with the agenda, and the speakers came from a combination of incredible contacts that the National Conservation Training Center has, you know, at its disposal just through working with them over the years, as well as the relationships that the Green Schools Alliance has through its advisory board, which is fantastic as well.
So, essentially, we're combining all of our resources to create the greatest critical mass and the greatest momentum and the most extraordinary event in the country. And, in fact, we hear from many who go through, whether it's students or faculty, we have 100 students, we have 20 faculty who are invited, and we hear words like "life changing." We even hear that from NCTC... "life changing." It's really exciting and it's bringing students who were nominated by their schools across-- from across the country, as well as the world. We have a student who flew in from Korea to come together. It's the only thing of its kind, and we're very proud and very excited at the potential to grow this and create a national core, in fact, a global conservation core, harkening back to Theodore Roosevelt's call to action one century ago that Doug Brinkley, another Sc3 Fellow, spoke to last year when he spoke-- he was, in fact, the opening speaker at Sc3 which, of course, was held at NCTC in your incredible auditorium.
EMILY JENKINS: How do you hope to inspire the kids during the Congress?
PEG WATSON: Well, it's all geared toward acting. The Green Schools Alliance is about what we can do, the change that we can make, both bold and those changes that are also accessible on a day-to-day basis, like simply turning off the water when you brush your teeth and turning off the lights.
We're building a core. We're building President Roosevelt's vision because we have to. We are building the largest coalition that we can with the students that are here and with the schools that we have within the network to create sort of an infrastructure within every single state of students working together, and working across generations and socioeconomic and geopolitical boundaries, facility managers, business officers, parents, faculty, and the students, of course, working together. Sc3 is a student-led initiative, and together we're going to change the world. We're going to respond to the need for a global shift in consciousness, as your Director, extraordinary Director, Jay Slack referred to the other day, when I said, "What has to happen, what can we do to fulfill your vision of what needs to be done?" And he said "We need a global shift in consciousness. We have to have a fundamental change in our values in terms of the way that we see ourselves vis-a-vis nature and the way that we consume and the choices that we make in every moment of our life."
And so Sc3 is about creating those awarenesses for the students and the faculty, growing it through the infrastructure on a state-to-state basis and globally within the countries using the infrastructure that that we have, expanding it, growing the critical mass, and it's all about the "do," not about the talk. It's about the "do." And we're into the "do" phase. We're a revolution of doing.
EMILY JENKINS: We appreciate what you're doing for the NCTC.
PEG WATSON: It's an incredible honor for the schools, for the Green Schools Alliance, for everyone who is participating in this Congress. For everyone who was not able to come to this Congress who wanted to, they'll hopefully one day be able to participate in this representing the 120,000 K-12 schools, the 80 million people that go to school every day, whether it's faculty or student, and all those people that are the families and friends, you know, this extraordinary number of people who are connected to the K-12 sector, to thank NCTC for its support, its guidance and for its partnership so that together we can protect those things that are so dear and precious that make us human beings and make us planetary citizens. So thank you to NCTC. Thank you to Steve Chase and to Mark Madison and to Thelma Flynn. Extraordinary, extraordinary people!
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