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Junior CAC Members & Why You Need Them!

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Student reflection on Student Network Event, "Calling All Conservationists" an online information session about the benefits and necessity of youth involvement in your town's conservation committee.


February 2023


As those of you familiar with FCWC know, the Student Network represents high school

and college students from Westchester County dedicated to promoting conservation

and sustainability across the county. The group’s latest initiative is to increase student

participation on the municipal Conservation Advisory Committees (CACs) county-wide.

To further this initiative, the Student Network organized, on October 13, 2022, a webinar

to brief local officials and students about the benefits of student representation, for both

the municipality and the students. The webinar also was intended to bring students

together to learn about other opportunities for climate change in their hometowns.

Speakers Alexis Friedman, a high school senior from Rye serving on the CAC, and Riley Hester, a high school senior from Pound Ridge who also serves on the local CAC, spoke of their very positive experiences working on these committees. As they pointed out, students are a crucial

component of the climate change movement and will be responsible in upcoming years

for leading the fight against global warming. Learning how decisions are made, through

their CAC participation, has been invaluable, Friedman and Hester agreed; they look

forward to taking these skills with them to college and beyond. That reason alone, they

thought, was a great motivation for student activism.


Currently, of the 48 county municipalities, 8 have junior CAC members, including

Ardsley, Greenburgh, New Castle, Pelham, Pound Ridge, Rye, and Tuckahoe.

Mamaroneck plans to propose a junior member position to its Town Supervisor while

Peekskill and Pleasantville have student volunteers, as opposed to appointed junior

members, on their CACs. However, adding a junior member younger than 16 to a CAC

may require a regulatory change since the State General Municipal Law now specifies

that junior CAC members should be “between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one.”

The webinar featured two other speakers: the President of the New York State

Association of Conservation Commissions gave a short presentation and Frances Wills,

a representative of the State Regents Board, spoke about the Seal of Civic Readiness.

According to the New York Department of Education, this “seal” is formal recognition

that a student has achieved a high level of proficiency in civic knowledge, civic skills,

civic mindset, and civic experiences. Participating on a CAC certainly fits into these

criteria.


In the short term, as the Student Network moves forward, it wants to continue efforts to

broaden student representation on local CACs. It also plans to identify all junior CAC

members across the county and invite them to join the group. We are so proud of our Student Network and impressed with their level of environmental commitment. We will

keep you posted on the progress of these active and dedicated students.


Watch the full program here:


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