Avalon science teacher to attend UN climate summit


Avalon science teacher Lauren Leith

Avalon science teacher Lauren Leith

Lauren Leith, a science teacher at Avalon School, 700 Glendale St., St. Anthony Park, will travel to France in December to participate in the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, an international summit sponsored by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Leith is one of 10 education ambassadors selected to be part of the delegation from Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy. The ambassadors are a group of teachers come from a variety of subject areas, grade levels and educational settings in New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Minnesota and Colorado.

The goal of the summit, to be held Nov. 30-Dec. 11, is to have leaders from the 195 countries of the United Nations adopt a binding agreement on reducing carbon emissions to limit global warming.

Leith has been a high school physics and chemistry teacher at Avalon for eight years. She taught in Cloquet for a year and Duluth for 10 years before coming to Avalon. She just completed her master’s degree in environmental education at Hamline University. Her master’s thesis was based on teaching renewable energy in her physics class.

Leith and her students are quite familiar with Steger and his organization. She has taken classes through Steger’s summer institute and she and Avalon’s student environmental club have done work at Steger’s homestead in Ely.

Part of her role at the Paris conference is “to share our students’ views as well as our community’s views,” Leith said. “The majority of my students are really concerned about [climate change]. I want them to have hope for the future, and that’s part of teaching about climate literacy—giving hope that we can, as a world, make a difference and change the course.”

Leith is eager to learn about the challenges nations face in making a commitment to reduce carbon emissions, she said. She’s also excited to learn more about renewable energy and technology “that can lead us down the path to clean energy.”

Avalon school will host a public presentation about COP21 and Leith’s role as a delegate on Thursday, Oct. 22, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Call 651-649-5495 for more information.

Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy was founded by polar explorer, educator and climate advocate Will Steger. The organization works with educators, youth and the general public to build climate literacy and promote approaches to addressing climate change. To learn more about Climate Generation, go www.climategen.org. You can learn more about the UN conference at www.cop21.gouv.fr/en. —Kristal Leebrick


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