In Southwest Florida, the arrival of June brings afternoon showers and sweltering temperatures, more leisurely summer days….and the not-so-anticipated onset of the annual hurricane season. Growing Climate Solutions encourages you to welcome summer by assessing your home’s inventory of storm-smart supplies and beginning to plan a few climate-friendly summertime activities, like planting trees or a garden, or biking to the beach. These family-friendly activities provide healthy entertainment and support the goals of Earth Day celebrations, actualizing the commitment we make to help protect the environment each year.

Growing Climate Solutions enjoyed a busy April, attending the kick-off of an Earth Day community clean up in Immokalee and supporting the Volo Foundation’s Florida Climate Week. Climate Week featured our final SWFL Climate Compass Series speaker, Professor Benjamin Keys, who discussed research on climate change impacts to coastal Florida’s housing and mortgage markets, followed by our Climate Communications Ambassador Training, delivered in collaboration with our national partner ecoAmerica.

Later in April, ecoAmerica hosted the 2021 American Climate Leadership Summit, a 3-day event that included a Day 2 panel presentation by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Robert Moher.  The conference sessions, focused on themes of climate and faith, climate and health, and climate and social justice, are available on YouTube. That same week, Dr. Puszkin-Chevlin presented to the Public Relations Society of America’s Gulf Coast Chapter, joined by Growing Climate Solutions founders Rob Moher of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Eileen Connolly-Keesler of the Community Foundation of Collier County, and Sarah Owen of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

In May, Growing Climate Solutions participated at the 2021 SWFL Climate Summit hosted by our new partner, the Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership (CHNEP).  Dr. Puszkin-Chevlin shared statistics reflecting southwest Floridians’ viewpoints on climate issues and offered ideas for effective climate communication. Our collaboration with CHNEP will be ongoing. We are pleased to report that Bridget Washburn will be representing Growing Climate Solutions as the Glades County member of CHNEP’s Citizens Advisory Committee. CHNEP works within a ten-county region to provide scientific research and restoration, environmental education, public outreach, and to increase stakeholder engagement in actions to protect and restore our waters and other exceptional natural resources.

In other regional news, the Southwest Florida Resilience Compact finally gained formal support from all fourteen government jurisdictions initially involved in its formation. The Southwest Florida counties and municipal governments have agreed to work together to prepare for, adapt to, and mitigate climate change impacts. Dr. Michael Savarese, a professor at the FGCU Water School, told WGCU that these kinds of compacts are common throughout coastal Florida.  Savarese will be convening the group for its first meeting over the summer with the support of a facilitator skilled in forging interlocal governmental collaborations.

In Naples, we put shovels to the ground, joining forces with the City to host a memorial and tree planting in celebration of Robbie Hutchinson and the legacy she will leave behind. The Robbie’s Trees Fund, managed by the Community Foundation of Collier County, will allow Growing Climate Solutions to bring climate education and dozens of trees – along with their ecological benefits – to local Habitat for Humanity neighborhoods.  Based on several successful partner meetings and site visits in May, we anticipate breaking ground with the initial tree planting in early July. If you enjoy getting your hands dirty and are interested in joining, send us an email!

Lastly, Growing Climate Solutions anticipates launching the Climate Patch for our partners the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida during the first week of June.  The virtual launch will include a 1-hour webinar featuring prominent women involved in climate science, advocacy and sustainability efforts. The Climate Patch aims to introduce young women to the basic science principles of the carbon cycle, greenhouse effect and renewable energy, and engage them in activities that connect knowledge with personal responsibility for sustainable lifestyle habits and community advocacy.  Looking for a summertime environmental education project?  Get hands-on with a Girl Scout Climate Patch activity, check out virtual learning opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, or download an app to measure (and reduce) your carbon footprint.