Village of Homer becomes first youth-led, climate smart certified community in New York State

(Photo from homerny.org).

Press release from Village of Homer Mayor, Hal McCabe. 

Today the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officially certified that the Village of Homer, NY is a Certified Bronze Climate Smart Community, making it one of only 55 bronze certified communities in New York State (out of a possible 1607) and the only municipality 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. ESF junior Shenequa Perry and Columbia University freshman Andrew Fagerheim serve as the CSC Coordinator and Assistant Coordinator, respectively. When asked about the impact of local action, Fagerheim responded that “Climate change is a global crisis, but it has local solutions, and both youth leaders and local governments are essential to ensuring a more sustainable today and tomorrow.”

This model of youth as catalysts, partners, and leaders in local climate action is unique and one that the Village credits with the success of their bid to become a bronze certified community. “The more I spoke with them, the more I realized that they should lead the task force,” Village Mayor Hal McCabe said of the youth leaders. “I want them to have full ownership of this process.” Homer is the only municipality in New York State whose climate task force is entirely led by students.

The CSC program’s goal 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. 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.

In order 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. When asked about the process Shenequa responded, “It was a long process full of learning, but it feels incredible to have led the Village in this effort. It really proves that youth do not have to wait to make a difference in their communities, and they are definitely capable of it.”

CLICK HERE TO WATCH A VIDEO STREAM OF TODAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION (THIS ANNOUNCEMENT WAS LIVE STREAMED BY THE WILD CENTER).