On Mothers’ Day, Sunday, the 13th of May, 2018, 8 students from Oregon participated in the second Mothers’ Day Plant-for-the-Planet Academy in Beaverton, Oregon! It took place at the Tualatin Valley Nature Center in the Tualatin Valley Nature Reserve in Beaverton and was hosted and supported by Cool Islam. For this we especially thank Razib Shahriar Shishir. We had been eyeing the Nature Reserve and Center for over a year as likely to be an idea place to hold a youth climate training—and it was!
The Academy grew out the connections between Pam Vergun, Plant-for-the-Planet U.S.’s Acting Executive Director, and Bilal Masjid, in part due to the interfaith work of Bilal and P’nai Or Jewish Renewal Synagogue of Portland, of which Pam and her family are members. These organizations accomplish a great deal of good in the wider Portland community and so this was a natural partnership, with Cool Islam making it possible and P’nai Or lending its support.
This Academy was led by Pam Vergun and Ambassadors Miko Vergun, Isaac Vergun, Soren Urban, Rocco Jones, Amelia Prins, Lauren Prins, and Lillian Rensmith, with assistance from Willa Rensmith. Ambassador Miya Gibson shadowed Pam as preparation for leading her own youth climate training. Bill Rensmith and Rob Vergun prepared to lead the parents’ meeting during the Academy. All were assisted by great volunteers like Peter Rija and Linda Wallmark.
It was a great Academy. Eight students aged 10 to 15 from one states and four cities (Beaverton, Portland, Hillsboro, and Wilsonville in Oregon) represented seven schools: 1 elementary school (Quatama), 3 combined elementary and middle schools (Islamic School of Portland, Springville, Cedarwood Waldorf), 1 middle school (Meridian Creek), 1 combined middle and high school (International School of Beaverton), and 1 high school (Westview).
Sponsors and Supporters
The staff at Plant-for-the-Planet provided us with T-shirts and books for this youth climate training and helped in other ways.
Razib arranged the rental of the beautiful nature-infused space, got word out about the training, and, when something happened with his original plan for the food, took care of the cost of morning energy bars, pizzas, corn dogs, tableware, and other foods including chocolate for the presenters.
We also appreciate the dedication of Linda Wallmark who brought from Salem some of the youth climate leaders who led the training, as well as volunteering that day with photos and supporting students. Linda also help the Salem prepare beforehand. Pam and Miko took photos and videos as well. Thank you also to Tualatin Valley Nature Reserve Park Ranger Scott Wagner for arranging the trees and places to plant within the Reserve and for arranging for Chris Sutherland to help the day of the training. Together they set up our best tree-planting experience ever.
We are especially grateful for our VIPs. Pam Treece, Washington County Commissioner Candidate who took time out of her campaign to speak to our youth and volunteers (and who still was elected Commissioner the Tuesday after). Rocco Jones came up from Salem as our special guest to perform the wrap he had written, which, as we learned after Pam introduced him to our amazing VIP, Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, was inspired by his hearing her work. And, we are deeply grateful for all that Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and her daughter Peinam added to the day as our very special VIPs. Kathy and Peinam got their first chance to plant a tree (which Pam was happy to help with) and check out the little nature museum.
In conjunction with this Academy, we took a video of the remarks by our VIPs: The one of Washington County Commissioner Pam Treece can be found here: https:// youtu.be/nalHT_p9qFY. Rocco Jones’ rap performance is here: https:// www.facebook.com/pam.vergun/videos/10213761671289883/. Remarks by Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner as well as her performing the poem she wrote for the U.N. Climate Leaders Summit in 2014, Matefele Peinam, together with her daughter are here: https://www.facebook.com/pam.vergun/videos/ 10213762100220606/.
Parts of Our Day
Bill Rensmith and Rob Vergun planned to lead the parents’ meeting at the nearby Robin’s Nest, but several moms darted out for some time together on Mothers’ Day morning before realizing there was a meeting just for them. All said they look forward to doing it at another time. Bill and Rob used the tie instead to prepare Rob to lead a meeting himself in the future. We started these meetings to help parents get a better understanding of parents’ imperative role in helping their youth climate leader be successful at making change. Parents really appreciate the chance to talk with each other as parents about the climate crisis.
Welcome, Ambassadors’ Presentation, Q & A, & Break
Students and parents arrived at the Beavers’ Den in the Tualatin Valley Nature Center and were met by volunteers who took care of any missing registration information. Pam introduced Plant-for-the-Planet, and the youth climate leaders gave the presentation.
Then, we took a break and enjoyed delicious snacks.
World Game Public-Speaking Training
We played the World Game. Then, we turned to Rhetoric Practice and discussed what makes a speech effective and gave out the slides with the presenters notes so
students could practice giving small parts of the talk. Pam worked with the students to help each decide who would present which slides in the afternoon.
Planting Party, Lunch Break, & Preparing to Give the Presentation
We then went out into the beautiful forest, following Chris onto the stump sculpture by the path and down to the Eliot trail to plant about a dozen trees, Douglas Fir trees as I recall.
Afterwards, we came back inside and had a great lunch of pizza, corn dogs, potato chips, and other treats. We tried to make sure that nothing was wasted by taking only the food we know we can eat, saving leftovers to bring home, and composting all that can’t be eaten, recycling what can be recycled.
Then, Pam helped the students to practice the presentation for the afternoon slideshow. As before, hearing that all who presented without notes would receive a chocolate bar from Cool Islam had a magical effect.
Afternoon Presentation & Graduation
All the presented, keeping to their resolution to present without notes. The presentation was attended by the families of the students and the volunteers, as well as our VIPs, Peinam and Kathy.
Kathy and Peinam delighted everyone with Kathy performing the poem she wrote for the U.N. Climate Leaders Summit in 2014, “Matefele Peinam”, with Peinam playing and dancing at her side as she spoke.
Students received their appointments as Climate Justice Ambassadors, along with certificates, Tree by Tree, Everything Would Be Alright, and flyers to let others their friends know about our youth climate training program. And then we took a group photo.
We would like to thank all those involved in this wonderful youth climate training.
Upcoming Youth Climate Trainings will be announced at our site: ClimateChangeRecovery.org.
26 March 2019
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