During Climate Week, the state DEC yesterday certified the Village of Homer as a Bronze level Climate Smart Community, making it one of just 55 in New York and the only whose certification process was entirely youth-led.
Current members and alumni of the Homer Environmental Club have worked with the Mayor, Board of Trustees, and community members over the past two years on the Village’s CSC Task Force to reach this milestone.
That includes a pair of former Homer High School students, ESF junior Shenequa Perry and Columbia University freshman Andrew Fagerheim, who serve as the CSC Coordinator and Assistant Coordinator.
Both Perry and Fagerheim have been featured on WXHC to discuss this project. (click here to listen)
“Climate change is a global crisis, but it has local solutions,” Fagerheim said, “and both youth leaders and local governments are essential to ensuring a more sustainable today and tomorrow.”
Gaining bronze certification provides the Village with state-level recognition for their ongoing environmental initiatives and priority access to state grants, resources, training, and networking.
To become bronze certified, the Village completed a number of actions including greenhouse gas inventories, climate action plans, energy efficiency upgrades in Village properties, and selling compost bins at cost to residents.
“It was a long process full of learning, but it feels incredible to have led the Village in this effort,” said Perry. “It really proves that youth do not have to wait to make a difference in their communities, and they are definitely capable of it.”
The goal of the CSC program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changing climate.
Municipalities chose which actions they believe are most practical and effective for their community to accomplish and earn points for each.
Homer is the only municipality in New York State whose climate task force is entirely led by students.
“The more I spoke with them, the more I realized that they should lead the task force,” Village Mayor Hal McCabe said. “I want them to have full ownership of this process.”