Hot Planet / Cool Athletes

An Educational Experience on Climate Change and Sustainability
February 14 – 18, 2012

In an ongoing effort to expose Jackson students to environmental issues, IC 21 partnered with two national organizations—Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) and Protect Our Winters (POW)—to bring an engaging, science-based assembly to four Teton County schools on February 13-17. The assembly, entitled “Hot Planet/Cool Athletes,” featured a professional skier or snowboarder from POW and a climate educator from ACE. IC 21 coordinated these assemblies that took place at JH High School, JH Middle School, Summit HS,
and JH Community School.

At JH Middle School, ski-mountaineer Kit DesLauriers, the first person to ski the Seven Summits—the highest peak on all seven continents—brought a unique perspective on glaciers, snowpack, and the future of big mountain skiing to over 500 excited students. Kit’s insight complemented the riveting ACE presentation, which utilized fun animations to teach the basics of climate science in concise, teen friendly terms. After laying out the problem, the presentation accelerated quickly toward solutions, emphasizing that game-changing programs could start in  Jackson Hole schools.

More than 600 students heard Jackson’s Mayor, Mark Barron, open the JHHS assembly with remarks on the Town of Jackson’s energy sustainability plan and a call for the students to take action. Professional snowboarder Seth Hill and ACE educator Brian Stillwell then presented “Hot Planet/Cool Athletes.”

The student-run Alliance Against Climate Change (AACC) followed with their own presentation that included a trivia game focused on potential energy savings and an introduction to their mission and programs.

In the wake of the Hot Planet/Cool Athletes presentation at JHHS, the AACC increased membership from 5 to 45 students. This membership boost will help the AACC to initiate the “Green My School” campaign, an effort to reduce JHHS total energy consumption by 5% or more by the end of this school year. Working with teachers and administrators, students will identify “energy vampires” and seek to eradicate inefficiencies at JHHS. If the “Green My School” campaign proves successful, the AACC plans to facilitate a school-wide program in the fall of 2012 to motivate students to increase energy efficiency at home. “The presentation did an excellent job of reaching students and getting them excited to protect not only our winters, but the futures of all winter towns,” said AACC vice-president, Jessica Moore.

Middle School principal Bo Miller is working with faculty and students to form an environmentally minded group who will implement projects in their school and beyond. JHHS seniors from the AACC will act as mentors for this new group. IC 21 is working with the other schools and local environmental organizations to create ongoing programs for teens interested in taking environmental action.