Civic Engagement in SEMIS Lisa Voelker, SEMIS assistant director, presented on Nov. 7, 2021, during the monthly Ypsilanti Sustainability Commission meeting. Our goal was to re-introduce ourselves and share how local teachers and students are engaged in place-based learning. Science teacher Paula Sizemore and instructional coach Jessica Krouger-Koupal presented with us and spoke of the work they’ve done with students and their desire to support youth to connect with municipal decision makers and influencers. We were received with a warm welcome, and some of the commissioners had great ideas right away for ways to build relationships with students, including having commissioners mentor a youth member. There are currently empty youth seats on some of the commissions in the City of Ypsilanti. Learn more here: https://cityofypsilanti.com/433/City-Advisory-Boards-and-Commissions.
So what’s next? We plan to work more directly with a few of the commissioners as well as present again in early spring to share updates and check in on next steps for partnership between SEMIS Coalition members and the Ypsilanti Sustainability Commission.
Why civic participation? It’s so important for teachers, students, and families to be aware of the local efforts around climate change preparedness and ecological sustainability. We also had youth civic engagement researchers from University of Wisconsin, Madison with us in the public audience. Erin Gallay and Connie Flanagan have been researching and supporting this work for years and are long-time partners working on environmental commons theory and advocating for youth civic engagement through schooling.