• Leadership Design Council members plan YAP events for 2024.
  • Two LDC members connect with the natural world.
  • Youth Action for the Planet Leadership Design Council.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 8, 2024) — The California Academy of Sciences is excited to announce Youth Action for the Planet (YAP), a new youth-led climate activism program for people aged 13-18 who care about the natural world and want to protect and regenerate it.

Established under the Academy’s Thriving California initiative, Youth Action for the Planet was created to address challenges Academy educators and staff heard young people describe: difficulty accessing resources, age limitations within participatory democracy, and a need to forge meaningful connections and momentum across peer climate organizations. With YAP, teens across the Bay Area can take part in ongoing climate action and gain a community of fellow youth organizers. The new program brings the Academy’s unique resources and connections to YAP participants, who will connect with researchers, legislators, other youth climate organizations, industry professionals, and community leaders for intergenerational learning, skill sharing, and co-creating environmental solutions.

“Youth are deeply affected by climate change and policy, and are limited in the ways that they can participate. They can’t hold office, they can’t vote, yet their voices matter and they’re affected by decisions being made by adults,” says Laura Lerman, Director of Expanded Learning and Youth Engagement. “Youth Action for the Planet is a powerful way we can include them in this process and give them more of a platform to understand these challenges and be taken seriously.”

“Research has shown that school-aged youth become involved in activism to redress feelings of distance and alienation from school curriculum, exclusion from political processes, and frustration with adult control over their autonomy and self-expression. As a collective, Youth Action for the Planet believes that any organization doing climate justice work must not only include the voices of youth, but center and be led by young people,” adds Dr. Aleks Liou, Youth Action for the Planet Program Manager. “By participating in Youth Action for the Planet, teens directly contribute to climate action and biodiversity research, strengthen their environmental literacy and advocacy skills, and collaborate with peers and adult allies to make a lasting positive impact on the planet.”


YAP will engage people across the Bay Area in climate action through a robust suite of youth-produced events at the California Academy of Sciences in 2024:

  • MLK Day of Action: We Have a Climate Dream – Monday, January 15, 10 am to 4:30 pm
    • To honor the legacy and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., YAP will host a day of learning and collective action about local environmental racism issues. Programming includes:
      • Panel discussion centered on the intersection of racial and environmental justice, with student speakers from Bay Area Youth Climate Summit, Marie Harrison Community Foundation, Project Super Plants, and Silicon Valley Youth Action. The talk will be livestreamed at 10:00 am via YouTube.
      • Climate Activities Fair, including a collaborative art mural, screen printing, native planting, mask recycling, and social justice and advocacy tabling.
  • Earth Day Hack-a-Thon – Sunday, April 14, time TBA
    • Proving that we’re stronger when we work together, YAP will bring together 300 teen participants for a day of creative and collaborative climate solution “hacking.” Participants will learn about local biodiversity challenges from Academy scientists, identify one issue to come together around, and then work collaboratively to design youth-led and community-based solutions.
  • Summer Bootcamp – Wednesday, June 24 through Sunday, June 28, time TBA
    • During these five days of intensive learning, 40 emerging youth climate activists from grades 8-12 will have the opportunity to deep dive on climate issues while building their science knowledge and environmental action skills. Through workshops, panels, and networking opportunities, participants will connect with local community organizers and frontline climate activists while building the skills needed to be effective young organizers, from creating an action plan to giving public testimony.
  • Bay Area Youth Climate Summit (BAYCS) – October TBA
    • BAYCS is an independent teen-led collective that organizes a day of climate-focused learning, networking, and action planning. In October 2023, YAP partnered with BAYCS to host their fourth annual summit at the California Academy of Sciences. This partnership continues in 2024, with YAP working closely with BAYCS co-chairs and youth organizers to produce programming for the upcoming summit.


To support the development of dynamic youth leadership and to ensure that teen voices are the primary driving force of the program, YAP is led by a 14-member teen Leadership Design Council (LDC). During their year-long term, LDC members work closely with Academy staff to design and produce public education and advocacy experiences for youth around climate action and conservation. 

LDC member Vivienne shares, "When I came across Youth Action for the Planet, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to be involved with other young people and actually be given resources to take action and accomplish the things that we want for the sake of the planet. To me, Youth Action for the Planet means us, as youth, collectively reclaiming our power as the next generation by leveraging our strengths for the betterment of the Earth and future, all while simultaneously creating an inclusive, welcoming space to thrive and show solidarity."

Fellow LDC member Surabhi adds, “Youth Action for the Planet is important because we are for youth, by youth. We focus on genuine action rather than just learning, and learning by experience helps us grow as climate advocates.”

Future LDC cohorts will be chosen by outgoing LDC members, using criteria including passion for climate and environmental justice, strong self-motivation, and commitment to personal growth and learning.


Youth who are interested in joining or learning more about YAP can sign up for the mailing list to be notified of upcoming events, workshops, and ways to join.

About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution with a mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in scientific research and environmental education—all under one living roof. Museum hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday. Admission includes all exhibits, programs, and shows. For daily ticket prices, please visit www.calacademy.org or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.

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