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Over two years (2017-2019) and using the RiSC’s climate resiliency curriculum, the National Wildlife Federation's Eco‐Schools 7‐Step framework, and seed funding, six school-based RiSC 1.0 teams put their knowledge to use by designing, executing and monitoring 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 that could be integrated into current guidelines and protocols. They also recommended ways that this important information could be equitably and widely communicated, disseminated, and prominently displayed in all schools.
In 2019-20, five school-based RiSC 2.0 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 (made worse by climate change) 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 unfortunately pre-empted boat trips to Jamaica Bay marshes and planned dune restoration activities with the American Littoral Society. But the RiSC project team and partners were adaptive and responsive and pivoted immediately to live webinars and remote learning in 2020. Huffman Studio, Inc. is creating a RiSC documentary that will be screened at the end of 2020.
The RiSC curriculum and the work of the RiSC teams are being disseminated locally, nationally, and internationally through partner channels and student-generated social media campaigns. Through partnerships and collaborations, our learning resources and experiences are being adapted and replicated in schools and communities across NYC, the U.S. and the globe that are likewise looking for ways to increase climate literacy in urban youth and engage them in resiliency planning.
RiSC program Team
Brett F. Branco, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences,
Brett Branco is a marine scientist and the Principal Investigator for the RiSC 1.0 project. As the Executive Director of the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay (SRIJB) (as of July 2019), and Co-Chair of the SRIJB's Research Council, Brett provides management support and science and resilience expertise to the RiSC project team and helps connect the project to resilience planning action in New York City.
Emily Alix Fano, M.A.
Senior Education Manager
National Wildlife Federation in New York City
Emily Fano is the Senior Program Manager for RiSC 1.0 and 2.0. In this role she leads on program design, management, partnerships and fundraising and designs professional learning workshops and special events. She also convenes the Climate and Resilience Education Task Force, comprised of NGOs, students, teachers, climate scientists, City, State, and Federal agencies.
Heather Sioux, B.S.
RiSC Program Manager
Heather Sioux is the Program Manager for RiSC 1.0 and 2.0 working with the National Wildlife Federation. In this role she 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 Gillis, M.S.
RiSC Assessment Team
Alexandra Gillis began her focus on environmental issues as an undergraduate Urban Sustainability major at Brooklyn College, where she studied the connections between social, environmental, and economic systems. In the summers between semesters, she worked with The Youth Farm and The Marble House Project – non-profit farming organizations – getting hands-on experience with sustainable farm systems. Now as a graduate student, Alexandra focuses her studies on land use in NYC and how it affects the urban mosquito population. She prioritizes subjects with a high chance of government action in response to her research, taking advantage of modern tools such as ArcGIS.
Helen Cheng, M.S.
Coastal Resilience Extension Specialist
New York Sea Grant
Helen Cheng is the Coastal Resilience Extension Specialist at the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay and plays an active role in planning the annual RiSC Summits.
Nordica Holochuck, M.ES
Hudson Estuary Specialist
New York Sea Grant
Nordica Holochuck is the New York Sea Grant Hudson Estuary Specialist located in Kingston, NY. Holochuck’s extension program focuses on the Hudson River and metro NYC coastal region's marine and estuarine education including habitat stewardship and coastal recreation. Holochuck has worked in collaboration with NOAA Environmental Literacy Grant recipients at Queens College. In collaboration with the NYSDEC Holochuck developed a set of place based classroom climate change lessons for use along the Hudson Estuary.