Since 2020, with funding from NOAA and FEMA, the RiSC program has been implemented in Coney Island, Brooklyn in partnership with 7 NYC public schools and 3 in Cape May County, New Jersey. Community partners include: Coney Island Beautification Project, American Littoral Society, New York Sea Grant, NYC Parks, the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, Coney Island residents and advisors, and NWF affiliate New Jersey Audubon. An adapted RiSC curriculum is educating students about Coney Island’s ecological and social history, including racist housing policies which continue to expose local residents to inequitable climate risks. Through oral history interviews, podcast projects and community events, students are striving to amplify Coney Islanders' lived experiences, increase public awareness of local climate impacts, and spark public conversations about climate solutions. In the spring of 2022, students from 9 schools planted 10,000 beach grass culms in Coney Island Creek Park, to stabilize the dunes along the shoreline and help protect nearby homes from coastal flooding. In 2023, students added an additional 15,500 culms.
In May 2023, the RiSC program was named the winner of FEMA’s Cooperative Technical Partners (CTP) Recognition Program Award for “outstanding efforts to increase risk awareness [and] to help advance equity and inclusion."
We're grateful to FEMA for the agency's continued support of the RiSC program.
In 2019-20, five school-based RiSC teams focused their learning on coastal hazards, extreme heat, climate justice, and the role of nature-based solutions in mitigating climate impacts. They took boat trips with BioBoat (on American Princess's whale-watching vessel) to learn about NYC's coastal geography and ecology. They took action against extreme heat by planting trees on their school campuses with Trees New York, and took public speaking training with Kid Power Academy to improve their climate communication skills. In mid-March 2020, COVID-19 pre-empted boat trips to Jamaica Bay marshes and planned dune restoration activities with the American Littoral Society. The RiSC project team pivoted to live webinars and remote learning. Huffman Studio, Inc. created a RiSC documentary, "It's Our Future," that was screened at 10 film festivals in 2021 and can be viewed at https://natwild.life/ItsOurFuture.
From 2017-2019, six school-based RiSC teams put their knowledge to use by designing small‐scale school‐based resiliency projects to mitigate climate hazards such as extreme rain events.
The RiSC student teams also examined current school-based emergency shelter and/or evacuation protocols and - based on their research and the results of their RiSC Vulnerability Assessments - developed resiliency recommendations for the NYC Department of Education. These recommendations were displayed and discussed at a culminating RiSC Summit at Brooklyn College in June 2019.
Through partnerships and collabora-tions, our learning resources and best practices are being adapted in schools and communities across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the globe that are looking for ways to increase climate and resiliency literacy.
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RiSC program Team
Emily Alix Fano, M.A.
Senior Manager, Climate Resilience Education
National Wildlife Federation
Emily Fano is the Principal Investigator for RiSC 2.0 and Senior Project Manager of the program. In this role she leads on program design and management, partnerships and fundraising, provides input on curriculum, and co-designs professional learning workshops and special events. She also convenes the Climate and Resilience Education Task Force in partnership with WE ACT for Environmental Justice. The Task Force is comprised of educators, students, NGOs, and policymakers working to expand access to interdisciplinary, justice-centered climate education in New York.
Heather Sioux, B.S.
Climate Education Specialist, Program Management Consultant
National Wildlife Federation
Heather Sioux supports, oversees and documents the implementation of RiSC projects and activities, liaises with RiSC teachers, administrators and students, and helps to plan and oversee programming, teacher workshops and special events. She also designed and developed the RiSC Vulnerability Assessment - a key resource in the RiSC curriculum.
Alexandra Kanonik, B.A.
American Littoral Society, Northeast Chapter
Alexandra holds a B.A. in Biology from Eckerd College in Florida. She educates people about New York's marine environment and works on ecological restoration projects in Jamaica Bay, Queens and beyond to benefit wildlife and people. Alexandra is passionate about coastal conservation. In addition to leading RiSC seining trips at Coney Island Creek, and assisting with Spring beach grass plantings and public events, she leads annual NY State Beach Cleanup events across New York.
Katie Graziano, M.S.
Coastal Resilience Specialist (2020-2023)
New York Sea Grant, based at SRIJB
Katie holds a B.A. in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a Masters in Marine and Environmental Affairs from the University of Washington. In her role with New York Sea Grant, she leads efforts to build community resilience to climate change through knowledge exchange. Her prior work and research focused on the human dimensions of watersheds, fisheries and coastal resource management in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Philippines, and Washington State. Katie contributes curricular materials and leads sea level rise demonstrations for RiSC students at Coney Island Creek.
Co-Founder and President
Coney Island Beautification Project (CIBP)
Coney Island Beautification Project (CIBP) was formed for the civic purpose to encourage community involvement and education in the enhancement of the environment and the resiliency of post Superstorm Sandy in Coney Island and surrounding areas. Pamela is a RiSC program partner and community liaison. She participated in RiSC program planning and curriculum development, and participates in teacher trainings and public events.
Coney Island Beautification Project (CIBP)
Georganna is a Coney Island resident and advocate who has lived in the Gravesend Houses on Kaiser Park for over forty years. After moving to Coney Island in 1977, she worked with Coney Island Pride and then with Astella Development. Georganna is a RiSC community liaison, participated in RiSC program planning and curriculum development, and participates in teacher trainings and public events.
Brett F. Branco, Ph.D.
Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay (SRIJB)
Brett Branco is a marine scientist and was the Principal Investigator for the RiSC 1.0 project. As the Executive Director of SRIJB, and Co-Chair of SRIJB's Research Council, Brett provides science and resilience expertise to the RiSC project team and helps connect the project to resilience planning action in New York City.
Shaun Field, M.A.
Researcher and Programs Manager
Shaun holds a Masters degree in Climate and Society from Columbia University. With a background in quantitative research methods, he has a passion for bridging disciplines to build solutions to complex issues. Shaun has research experience in genetics, climate science, and international climate law and policy. At Knology, Shaun manages projects across all of the research areas, with a major focus on parks and health projects. He is a RiSC program evaluator (2020-2023).
Johann received his doctoral training at SOAS, University of London focusing on the relationship between social movements, democracy and political systems. He is particularly interested in using systems science and systems thinking to tackle phenomena like climate change that cut across disciplinary boundaries. He has been a media columnist since 2016, and enjoys the challenge of engaging with a wide range of audiences to communicate complex issues. Johann is a RiSC program evaluator (2020-2023).