On February 24th, 2018, over a thousand students, teachers and volunteers attended the 4th annual Spare the Air Youth’s YES (Youth for the Environment and Sustainability) Conference at Laney College in Oakland. After registration and breakfast, everyone filed into the gym to hear welcome greetings and announcements. We cheered speeches from the Air District Chair; David Hudson, MCT Commissioner and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Laney College representative Dean Peter Crabtree, and finally, the Middle School keynote speaker; Alyssa Goldfield.
Throughout the day everyone participated in two sessions, choosing from over 50 seminars. We learned about many environmental topics from Fracking, Green Careers, Urban Transportation, Recycling, and Sustainable Engineering to Student Activism, Edible Forestry, Marine Life, Ocean Acidification, and how to get involved in sustainable change.
During lunch, we enjoyed other fun activities like the bike blenders, poetry performances, open mic, yoga, Capoeira, chalk art, dancing and a photo booth in the Quad.
We ended back at the gym for the closing ceremony with High School keynote speaker; McKenna Smith, adult keynote speaker; Devin Lars, and Youth Speaks poet; Jed Rodriguez. Competition winners and raffle prizes of gift bags, $100 gift cards, Amazon Echo, and a bicycle were handed out. The YES Conference was a huge success and everyone from the air district and the planning committee was grateful for the turnout and awesome results.
My keynote speech was on how people can fight climate change in their home, school, and community by their daily actions. I attended a lesson held by students from Lincoln Middle School to learn about the watershed, ocean acidification, and the importance of sorting trash. I took pictures at the photo booth during our amazing lunch. I made a bike blender smoothie, played fun environmentally targeted games at the mini carnival, listened to music, and hung out with my friends. During session two, I learned about important factors in city planning of the future. The important things to consider are energy, transportation, food, and employment to construct a city that is eco-friendly. The keynote speakers talked about the importance of women in STEM fields and encouraged us not let obstacles and failures prevent us from pursuing our dreams. I am grateful to be a part of the planning committee and to be chosen as a keynote speaker.