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Youth Forum Keynote Tackles the Climate Crisis
Jenni Owen-Blackmon

Day two of Branson’s inaugural Youth Forum continued on April 29, 2021 with three amazing keynote speakers. The trio of climate activists, advocates, and entrepreneurs discussed the urgency of the planet’s climate crisis, while highlighting the hope they have for young people to find solutions to the huge challenges ahead. 

Executive Director and Founder of Mycelium Youth Network Lil Milagro Henriquez shared how students in a Dungeons and Dragons session inspired her to create the network to prepare young people to live with and address climate change. We believe that education is to prepare young people for what is happening, and if it’s not doing that, there’s a disjointedness that makes it hard for young people,” she said. “[We need] Curriculum that allows for deep preparation for what is happening.“

Director and Founder of Shark Stewards David McGuire spoke of the need to protect  the oceans with Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as a path toward combating climate change. “The goal is to protect 30% of our planet by 2033,” he said. “We have more power in this generation than we’ve ever had before. We have more access to knowledge and ability to share it, and hopefully that power will be applied to change and do good.“

Founder and CEO of Sustainable Ocean Alliance Daniela Fernandez discussed working to provide young people with what they need to achieve their environmentally-minded goals, especially as entrepreneurs. “We believe it is in the next 20 years that we have to solve this climate crisis, that we have to protect our environment,” she said. “It’s truly about empowering our generation to get those resources, tools, access to put those solutions out in the world.”

Moderated by Branson student leaders Serafina Carlucci and Katie Stovell, the panelists agreed that the ingenuity, passion, and bravery of young people, supported by technologies like social media, give them immense optimism for the future, despite the difficulties ahead. However, it won’t be one group that solves climate change. “It will take all of us to do something to help our environment,” Daniela said.  

Branson’s Youth Forum, Education Reimagined – Brilliance Redefined, was organized by students with support from DEI Director Dr. JuanCarlos Arauz and members of the Branson faculty.