Press Release: NOAA Expands Efforts to Uplift Youth Voices


A group of youth stand in an classroom



Press Release


  • eeBLUE

On March 15, 2023, NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. (center) and Special Advisor on Youth Engagement Lauren Gibson, Ph.D. (second from left) met with Massachusetts high school students from Massachusetts' Cape Cod public high schools and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe for a roundtable discussion on climate change. Select teens interested in ocean and environmental sciences, like the ones pictured here, will have the opportunity to influence decision-making at NOAA through the new eeBLUE Young Changemakers Fellowship. (Image credit: NOAA/LT Michelle Levano)

Read the original post on the NOAA website.

NOAA Expands Efforts to Uplift Youth Voices. Pilot Program Brings Youth Perspectives to Highest Levels of NOAA Leadership

Youth are often called “the leaders of tomorrow,” but NOAA recognizes the power and potential that young people have today to create change for our ocean and our environment.

NOAA is committed to empowering youth, and we are finding new ways to bring youth voice into the highest levels of the agency. 

eeBLUE Young Changemakers Fellowship Brings Youth Voice into NOAA

The eeBLUE Young Changemakers Fellowship (YCF) is a new avenue for young people to influence decision-making at NOAA. The YCF is a year-long program designed to empower high school students to take action on ocean and environmental issues and bring their perspectives on these issues to NOAA leadership. YCF supports the goals of the broader eeBLUE partnership, a five-year agreement between the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) and NOAA's Office of Education that aims to increase environmental and scientific literacy.

NAAEE and NOAA will welcome nine high school students from across the country to be a part of the program’s pilot year. Selected students will travel to Washington, D.C., this July for a kickoff summit, where they will have a chance to meet other passionate young people, build community action skills and engage in roundtable discussions with NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D.

“Throughout my professional career, I’ve been deeply impressed with the passion and knowledge many young people bring to ocean and climate science and policy,” said Spinrad. “I am very much looking forward to learning from and with our Young Changemakers during this pilot year and in the years to come.”

After returning home from the summit in D.C., each YCF participant will spend their 2023–2024 school year developing, planning and carrying out an action project in their community, with support from a NOAA mentor. They will also periodically reconvene with NOAA leadership to give insights into the agency’s direction based on their perspectives and lived experiences as young people.

NOAA Hires Agency Lead for Youth Engagement

Leading NOAA’s contributions to this program and other youth empowerment initiatives is Lauren Gibson, Ph.D. Gibson, a social scientist and past youth advocate, was recently appointed as the agency’s first Special Advisor on Youth Engagement. In this role, Gibson works to integrate more youth voices into NOAA decision-making and strengthen career pathways for young people interested in NOAA-related topics.

“Young people are some of our most crucial stakeholders and partners in ocean and environmental stewardship,” says Gibson. “I am excited to help NOAA expand our efforts to work alongside youth, both for the sake of our mission and for the good of our planet.”

Gibson’s youth engagement efforts build on the work of several other student-focused programs at NOAA. These include school-based programs like the K–12 experiential learning opportunities funded by the Bay Watershed Education and Training program, a variety of undergraduate scholarship programs and several graduate fellowships. 

NOAA also supports youth empowerment efforts outside of the classroom through the Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers (CELC) Youth Summit in partnership with aquariums and the Ocean Guardians Youth Ambassadors Program supporting the National Marine Sanctuaries system. Visit the NOAA student opportunities page to learn more about these and other initiatives.