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Nashville Youth Climate Action Projects Support Young People in Creating a Climate-Resilient Future

July 19, 2023

Students across Nashville spent the spring creating a more climate-resilient future in their schools and communities. With support from Nashville Soccer Club, the Cumberland River Compact mentored over 20 Nashville youth climate leaders in the implementation of four student-led projects that addressed topics related to sustainability and climate resilience.

These projects are a new addition to the Nashville Youth Climate Program – which aims to build a community of young people with the information, skills, and experiences to take engage in local climate action. Student teams attended the 4th Annual Nashville Youth Climate Summit where they spent the afternoon developing a project that addressed Nashville’s Climate Action Plan. Students were awarded funding from Nashville SC that ranged from $200 to $1,000 to make their project a reality. 

The Youth Climate Action Projects were part of the Major League Soccer’s Greener Goals initiative that aims to raise awareness of sustainability initiatives within local communities. Nashville SC was the first and only team to support youth climate projects as part of the league-wide initiative. This funding marks a new chapter in the Cumberland River Compact’s partnership with Nashville SC. The two groups previously partneredfor the “Planting the Road to MLS” tree planting where over 100 trees were planted to kickoff Nashville SC’s MLS debut. 

“We are proud to invest in growing the capacity of youth leaders to organize, lead, and take action on environmental issues”, says Brandon Hill, Nashville SC Head of Community Engagement.  “This generation of young people are more passionate than ever about the environment and this project gave them the resources to make a difference in their communities”.   

Project teams were recognized at the Nashville SC vs Los Angeles FC match on April 22nd – Earth Day! Students were honorary flag bearers and walked on the pitch at the opening of the match. Representatives from each project team were also recognized as the “Heroes of the Match” at half-time. You can see more about the Greener Goals initiative and watch a video from one youth climate project on Nashville SC’s website.

Learn more about each climate action project below.

Nashville Youth Climate Action Projects

Cafeteria Composting Pilot at MLK High School 

Project team:  Carmelina (Millie) Peterson, Fern Spence, Keira White, Marina Alcendor, Brady Mitchell

Reducing food waste and repurposing food scraps through composting are two greatactions to address climate change. At MLK High School, students started a pilot compost system for the cafeteria food waste scraps and worked to get the word out to their fellow students about the impacts of food waste. 

This experience has genuinely given me hope and ignited a passion for guiding others and helping them learn more about the issues I care about” said Millie Peterson, student leader at MLK High School. “Not only was I able to learn how to inspire others, but I was also able to learn how to be inspired by my teammates.”

Reimaging Food Access at Antioch High School

Project team: Marko Doce, Hector Valencia, Youssoupha Charles, Deep Patel, Arina Akopians, Oliver Molina, Joy Ibrahim, Meylin Martinez, Evan Potts, Edom Abbaoli, Savannah Price, Yeydi Torres

Students at Antioch High School sought to boldly reimagine equitable food access for their community by restoring a greenhouse on their campus. With the project funding, they were able to clean up the greenhouse, remove debris, plant seedlings, and get a jumpstart on the materials necessary for long-term success. 

“I’ve learned that sustainability is a very important aspect of communities, this is through seeing at the Youth Climate Summit how sustainable cities and agriculture have a lasting impact on slowing climate change effects”, said Marko Doce, Antioch High School student. “As a student leader, this has been one of the best experiences that I have been a part of. Being able to lead my team to doing something so meaningful in our community has been a fun and great learning experience”.

Targeting Teacher Workroom Waste at Hume Fogg High School

Project team: Sarah Wang, Malik Alabed, Arabella Vos

Davidson County residents generate about 9.4 lbs of trash per person per day. Meanwhile, our landfill space dwindles. Terracycle allows traditionally unrecyclable materials like food packaging, cosmetics, and office supplies to be recycled. At Hume Fogg, the student team targeted heavily-trafficked teacher workrooms with a box for pens, markers, and pencils, and a battery bucket. In a few short months, they collected an impressive amount of items, all of which would have been thrown away!

“The Cumberland River Compact and Nashville SC grant helped us grow as student leaders by giving us the opportunity to carry out a project that will benefit our environment, which gave us experience with student leadership,” said Sarah Wang Hume-Fogg student.

Rain Garden Refresh and Terracycling at MLK High School

Project team: Bethel Derege and Grace Olson

Rain gardens help to slow down and naturally infiltrate rain water before it enters our streams and rivers. MLK High School had a rain garden that was in need of new plants to help it function. Students selected and planted new plants and provided a much-needed refresh to the garden. 

“My favorite part of the project was seeing so many volunteers come outside spur of the moment to serve their school,” said Bethel Derege.

Grace and Bethel also added Terracycle boxes to their school to capture hard-to-recycle materials.


Author Bio:

Catherine Price is the Senior Program Manager at the Cumberland River Compact, where she manages the organization’s education, engagement, and volunteerism programs. Catherine brought the Youth Climate Summit model to Nashville in 2020 and has presented alongside national leaders on the Nashville program. Catherine has a Master of Science in Zoology from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from Miami University.