2021 Virtual Finger Lakes Youth Climate Summit – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

2021 Virtual Finger Lakes Youth Climate Summit

Hobart and William Smith’s annual Finger Lakes Youth Climate Summit, which brings together high school students in the region to make a commitment to climate action, will be held in six virtual installments. The summit is free, open to high school students and educators, and will be held February- April.

Erin Kluge '23
Erin Kluge ’23

In a time of remote learning and virtual events, the fight for climate justice moves forward. That’s why this year’s Finger Lakes Institute intern Erin Kluge ’23, who has helped coordinate the HWS 2021 Finger Lakes Youth Climate Summit, selected the summit’s 2021 theme “Environmental Activism in the Digital Realm,” offering workshops focused on leveraging digital tools and students’ digital literacy for climate action.

“Advocacy can persevere in any circumstance,” says Kluge, an environmental studies and philosophy double major. By focusing the summit on exploring the power of youth voices through social media and other digital platforms, Kluge works to empower students to continue climate activism in their schools and communities even during the pandemic.

Workshop topics include digital activism, elevating student voices through social media, advocating to authority and connecting to community. The workshops are free and open to high school students and school educators. Pre-registration is required.


The Finger Lakes Youth Climate Summit began as an outreach program coordinated by Hobart and William Smith’s Finger Lakes Institute in 2017. The event engages high school students in learning about climate change and implementing solutions at their schools and in their communities. Traditionally held as a one-day conference on campus, this year the event will be a series of six workshops held on various dates from February 23 through April.

“We are very excited to offer our youth climate program this year, in a reimagined format,” shares Nadia Harvieux, Education Program Manager at the FLI and coordinator for the summit. Harvieux explains that past participants of youth climate summits from across New York State will lead each workshop, a connection forged in partnership with The WILD Center in Tupper Lake, which held the first youth climate summit. “This network of young people serving as workshop leaders have a lot of experience to share and are a great resource for current summit participants.”

Director of the FLI Lisa Cleckner agrees. “It is incredibly inspiring to hear the successes and efforts of the young people in our region and the climate work they have taken on, and we are so grateful to the Wyckoff Family for helping to make this a reality.” Since 2017, the Finger Lakes Youth Climate Summit has served more than 300 area high school students and helped launch a wide variety of sustainability projects with partner schools, such as composting programs, water conservation initiatives and recycling efforts. This year, the statewide goal is to implement climate action plans during Earth Week in April.

The first workshop in the 2021 Virtual Finger Lakes Youth Climate Summit Series will kick off on Tuesday, Feb. 23 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. The event is supported by Hobart and William Smith’s Finger Lakes Institute, the Wyckoff Family Foundation and The Wild Center.