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Summer Isn’t the Only Thing Heating Up!

2013 July 30

By Natalie Liller

EPA Climate Change Program

EPA Climate Change Program

My friends couldn’t believe that, instead of sleeping till noon, I was spending my first week of summer vacation rising early to attend a Climate Change Program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Research Triangle Park, NC.  My interest in climate change had grown since my AP Environmental Science class, and I applied, yearning to find out what I could do to help combat the impacts of rising global temperatures. The EPA Climate Change Program was the way to go!

The first morning of the weeklong program arrived, and I jumped into my car – with a cup of highly caffeinated coffee in hand of course – and embarked into unknown territory.  As I approached the EPA, I could only gaze up and all around in awe of its grandeur.  Such a large building, but what and who did it hold? I couldn’t wait to get started and meet people just as interested in the cause and curious about what careers climate change could offer.

The Program’s 31 students had the privilege of meeting with and hearing from scientists, researchers, analysts, and more — from EPA, NC State University, Duke, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and the Alliance for Climate Education.  Students came from high schools all over central NC: Panther Creek, Northern, Enloe, Riverside (go Pirates!), and many more.

We learned about greenhouse gas emissions, global impacts of climate change, environmental policy, and ways to reduce the impacts of climate change. It was engaging and thorough. I couldn’t help but be inspired by the enthusiasm of my peers – asking questions, providing input and opinions, and being curious about a speaker’s work and career path.

The program was full of hands-on activities. One included building particle sensors to monitor atmospheric carbon and another focused on pretending we were researchers in frigid Greenland. Each activity offered us a chance to use our hands, work collaboratively, and have fun. Even more so, we were offered a taste of what climate change careers.  It is encouraging to know that opportunity is out there—that I can take my knowledge and love for the environment anywhere I chose. I can combat global climate change from a cubicle, focusing on computer models, or I can engage in field research halfway across the world.

The program opened doors, connected me to a network of people I would not have met otherwise, and made me realize I can make a difference in my home, my school,  my community, and worldwide. Now, let’s go fight climate change and save the world!

About the Author: Natalie Liller is a rising senior at Riverside High School in Durham, hoping to pursue a career in politics with a concentration in environmental policy. She was excited to participate in EPA’s 2013 Climate Change Summer Program. Learn more about the Climate Change Program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Jay Cwanek permalink
    July 30, 2013

    “As I approached the EPA, I could only gaze up and all around in awe of its grandeur” – Honestly, that’s not the sentiment we wish to convey to the average American…

    • Sam at EPA permalink*
      July 30, 2013

      Hi Jay, our Research Triangle Park (RTP) facility is EPA’s biggest operation outside of Washington, DC, and is one of the biggest green buildings in the world. You can learn more about the campus here – http://www.epa.gov/rtp/aboutrtp.htm

      • Jay Cwanek permalink
        July 31, 2013

        Pride one thing, hubris another.

  2. Asteroid Miner permalink
    July 31, 2013

    In a technological society, all citizens need to know a great deal of science. Notice how many people get the wrong answer on nuclear power because they haven’t studied the science and math.   All high school students should be required to take 4 years of physics, 4 years of chemistry, 4 years of biology and 8 years [double classes] of math.   Probability and statistics should be included starting in the third grade.

       In college, Everybody, regardless of major, should be required to take the Engineering and Science Core Curriculum [E&SCC] plus a laboratory probability and statistics course plus more physics lab courses plus one course in computer programming.

    E&SCC = 2 years of calculus at the college level, 2 years of physics and 1 year of chemistry. All engineering and science students are required to take the E&SCC in their freshman and sophomore years.

    Most people, including people with college degrees in subjects other than science and engineering, use their emotions [emote] when they should be doing math. Most people are afraid of nuclear power because they do not understand it. Nor do they know how to think rather than emote [have emotional reactions]. “To think” means “to do math.”

    Natalie Liller should get a degree in physics or climate science if she wants to work in environmental policy. Natalie Liller: DO NOT GET A DEGREE IN POLITICAL “SCIENCE” or humanities. We need a Congress that actually understands climate.

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