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Drawing Students into Sustainability Summit Conversation

S Bence

Organizers of the annual Sustainability Summit and Exposition have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of climate change and the need of sustainable innovation. Now in its 12th year, two educators are trying to draw high school students more deeply into the conversation. 

“Growing Up Green” sprouted from their collaboration and will pilot Thursday during the summit. 

The track features two breakout sessions: Building Sustainable Communities and Rethinking Educational Settings.

A "learning village" will also give students the chance to explore hand-on mini classes on sustainability topics. A area for informal conversation has also been set aside for students to network and discuss.

The experiment is being lead by Dr. Lisa Conley, who teaches in MATC’s Life Sciences department, and Dr. BohdanNedilsky. He directs New Horizons for Learning, a charter school in Shorewood. 

They believe service learning is an effective teaching tool, through which both student and community benefit. 

The seed for “Growing Up Green” was planted during the 2014 Sustainability Summit. Conley met when Nedilsky when he and several of his students led a panel exploring a their experience in creating and sustaining community partnerships. 

Nedilsky says attendees stayed on long after the panel ended to share ideas. 

“The sustainability summit has been incredible in drawing really important names, and people doing important work. Our goal was to show that that work is taking place within our city of Milwaukee,” Nedilsky says. 

He and  Conley hope to attract those group, and the students with whom they work, to the summit conversation. 

“Any student involved in and engaged in service learning – they get this inner confidence that they are important, that they make a difference, and they can contribute something,” Lisa Conley says. 

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.