Ohio University

Scripps College of Communication to host high school climate summit

Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication will host the Rural Action Youth Climate Action Team (YCAT) Real World Problem Scenario Pitch Competition on Friday, October 11, 2019. High school students from around the region will work in groups to develop projects related to a problem posed by the organizers. 

The problem to be addressed at the year’s competition is: “Communications professionals need to know the most powerful and effective way of communicating about environmental issues to people in rural areas.”  

Scott Titsworth, dean of the Scripps College of Communication, offered to host the event in the Schoonover Center for Communication when Allison Ricket, an English teacher at Athens High School and organizer of the competition, contacted him about the event.  

“We’re always excited when we can help students in our community,” Titsworth said. “This was an opportunity to work with a terrific organization on an issue that’s critical to the work we do here. I’m very excited to see the projects these students produce. In addition, the focus on climate change is something to which we should all devote attention. We are excited to partner with Rural Action and area schools to raise attention on this issue in our region.” 

YCAT is an environmental leadership program for high school students in Southeast Ohio. Participants implement climate education and conservation projects at their schools and participate in two workshops each year, hosted jointly by Rural Action and Camp Oty’Okwa. 

“The ultimate goal of YCAT is to empower students to take positive action around the issue of climate change and to give them a high-level educational experience that connects them with real professionals in the field and potential academic pathways,” said Joe Brehm, Rural Action’s environmental education director.  

The summit is in its fourth year; this is the first year a problem-based scenario has been fully incorporated. The curriculum unit to be used for the summit was developed by Building Bridges to Careers (BB2C), an organization based in Marietta, Ohio. Ricket’s experience as a 2018 Scripps College of Communication Fellow allowed her to connect the resources needed for this event.  

“Problem solving pedagogy is a best practice that allows students to think creatively, utilize interdisciplinary connections and develop agency,” Ricket said. “I had been working with BB2C and as soon as I saw the Scripps facility, I knew that we needed to have a giant problem-solving day in that space.” 

The agenda for the Oct. 11 summit includes presentations from community members who have expertise in some aspect of communication or climate change. Ricket said incorporating an “adult field of inquiry” adds a level of impact to the students’ experience. 

“These are the real problems that adults are struggling to answer,” Ricket said. “For that reason, the students feel that their answers and their contribution have a meaningful and immediate impact on the community they live in.” 

Current OHIO students will be on hand to assist the high school participants as they create their projects. A group of Scripps College of Communication Innovation Scholars are contributing research and serving as mentors throughout the day.  

The student teams will present their proposed solutions to the full group at the end of the program. Roughly 70 students, teachers and experts are expected to participate.