This past July, NE CASC Science Coordinator, Michelle Staudinger and Tribal Climate Science Liaison for the Northeast and Southeast, Casey Thornbrugh engaged youth and staff at the 2018 Native Youth in Science – Preserving Our Homelands (POH). POH is a 4-week summer youth environmental science camp run by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Natural Resources and Education Departments. The camp is designed to expose Tribal youth to land stewardship concepts as practiced by traditional knowledge keepers and environmental scientists. Michelle and Casey teamed up with environmental educators, Joan Muller and Nancy Church from Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (WBNERR) to implement two days of hands-on learning activities for camp participants. Michelle demonstrated how different coastal species are expected to respond to increasing amounts of sea level rise while Joan, Nancy, and Casey helped students construct and plan coastal communities that could be resilient to sea level rise. The Tribe’s Natural Resources and Education Department staff shared their knowledge of the local environment and how they are dealing with coastal changes.
These activities helped youth understand the implications of climate change and sea level rise on coastal ecosystems and how coastal communities such as their own, can adapt and build resilience into their cultural and environmental practices. Participation in this camp was especially meaningful for Casey who is a citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. For Michelle, who has spent quite a bit of time in the surrounding areas on the Cape, it was a chance to learn more about Mashpee culture and their perceptions towards the threat of sea level rise.