This Schedule is tentative and subject to change.  Check back periodically for updates.  The symposium is hosted in Battle Creek, Michigan and therefore all times listed are Eastern Standard Time. 

8:45 - 9:55  Intro and Keynote

Mitzi Jonelle Tan
Presentation Title/Topic

Mitzi Jonelle Tan is a full time climate justice activist.  Having committed to climate activism in  2017, she has since then become a voice representing the Global South.  She is the convenor and international spokesperson of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), the Fridays For Future (FFF) of the Philippines.  She is also an organizer with FFF International and FFF MAPA (Most Affected Peoples and Areas).  She is based in the Philippines and works as a global activist demanding systematic change for the Global South, advocating for marginalized populations that demand representation.  

10:00 - 10:55, Session 1

Peter Neff, PhD, University of Minnesota 
Presentation Title/Topic
I am a glaciologist and climate scientist working primarily to develop glacier ice core records of past climate, environmental conditions, and atmospheric chemistry. My current research focuses on better understanding recent climate of changing coastal regions in West Antarctica, areas which play a large role in uncertainty for future projections of sea level rise. I also am working to capture the last 200-500 years of hydroclimate variability in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, through recovering and developing the southernmost annually-resolved ice core record in North America, from Mount Waddington in the Coast Mountains.

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Peter Neff 

Jamie Margolin

Policy, Action, and Justice
Jamie Sarai Margolin, Zero Hour
Growing Up At The End of The World
I've been in the climate movement since I was 14-years-old. Now I'm 20, and while the movement has grown and become mainstream, the climate crisis itself continues to worsen. I will talk about my story, and how to find hope and happiness in the face of a growingly uncertain world.

Jamie Sarai Margolin is a Colombian-American jewish author, filmmaker, organizer, and public speaker. She is a founder of the international youth climate justice movement called Zero Hour that led the official "Youth Climate Marches" in Washington, DC and 25+ cities around the world during the summer of 2018. Zero Hour has over 200+ chapters worldwide and has been a leading organization in the climate movement. Jamie is the author of a book called "Youth To Power: Your Voice and How To Use It,” ( which has been translated in many languages and sold all over the world. The book serves as a guide to organizing and activism, and is a recipient of the 2020 Gold Medal Nautilus Book Award for YA nonfiction. Jamie is also a plaintiff on the Our Children's Trust Youth v. Gov Washington state lawsuit, Aji P. vs. State of Washington, suing the state of Washington for denying her generation their constitutional rights to a livable environment by worsening the climate crisis. Jamie served as a surrogate for the Bernie Sanders 2020 Presidential Campaign, speaking at several campaign rallies (including the 2020 Tacoma Dome rally to an audience of over 17 thousand people), filming campaign endorsement videos, and doing outreach to get out the vote for Bernie Sanders. She also was one of the youngest Delegates at the 2020 Democratic Convention. Jamie is also the director, screenwriter, and lead actress in a web series called ART MAJORS (, which is a show about a friend group of LGBTQ+ art students struggling with queer love and breaking into the entertainment industry. She is also the host of “Lavender You” (, a podcast and online community talking about queer arts and media representation. Jamie is one of Teen Vogue’s “21 Under 21” girls changing the world in 2018, One of People Magazines 25 women changing the world in 2018, Fuse TV’s Latina Trailblazer of 2018, one of The Today Show’s 18 under 18 Groundbreakers of 2019, MTV EMA Generation Change winner of 2019, one of the BBC's 100 most influential women of 2019, and one of GLAAD’s 20 under 20 LGBTQ+ people changing the world. She is on the OUT 100 list of 2020.

11:00 - 11:55, Session 2

Gerald R. Urquhart, Ph.D, Michigan State University
Climate Change in Tropical Rainforests
Gerald R. Urquhart Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, Professor of Biology, Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University. Dr. Urquhart is a tropical biologist who studies coupled natural and human systems with over 25 years of experience working in the tropics. He teaches in both Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.  He began teaching at MSU in 1999 and has taught courses ranging from biology to computer science to study abroad. In his research, Dr. Urquhart is most interested in understanding the synergistic effects of globalization and climate change as the last wild places on Earth become more influenced human activity.  The majority of his work has focused on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, but he has a new NSF-funded project in the Brazilian Amazon. Dr. Urquhart leads study abroad programs to Nicaragua and Ecuador.  In his study abroad programs, he works to emphasize the human condition in teaching about rainforests as a place where humans and wildlife coexist. Before working at Michigan State University, he received his bachelor’s degree from Lyman Briggs Michigan State University in Zoology, his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and held a post-doctoral research position at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. 


Policy, Action, and Justice
Dr. Denise Keele, Western Michigan University
Climate Change Policy & Politics
This session will explore the political process and identify the challenges and opportunities to address the climate crisis at the local, federal and international levels with an emphasis on ways students can influence policy-makers.

Denise Keele received her PhD in Environmental Politics from SUNY-ESF, Syracuse and is currently an Associate Professor of Political Science, jointly appointed with the Institute of the Environment & Sustainability, at Western Michigan University (WMU) in Kalamazoo, Michigan USA. Her research and teaching focus on environmental policy and law, in particular the use of the courts to influence public policy. Since 2014, she has chaired the interdisciplinary WMU Climate Change Working Group. In 2018, she became the faculty co-chair of WeVote, WMU’s non-partisan committee focused on voter registration, education and turnout. Since 2019, she has led the Kalamazoo Climate Crisis Coalition. She is the winner of an inaugural Climate Champion Award from Michigan Climate Action Network.

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12:00 - 12:55  Lunch

No programming is scheduled during this time.  Sessions resume at 1:00 pm EST.

1:00 - 1:55, Session 3

Joseph E. Trumpey, PhD, University of Michigan
Presentation Title/Topic
Joe Trumpey is an Associate Professor of Art at the Stamps School of Art & Design and an Associate Professor of Natural Resources at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He also served as Director of International Engagement for Art & Design for six years and successfully implemented the University’s first International Experience Requirement for all Art & Design students. He is a faculty associate with the University of Michigan’s African Study Center, Program in the Environment, and the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. He currently serves on the Executive Committee for the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute.

While at U-M, Trumpey created a BFA Science Illustration Concentration / Curriculum that was successfully offered from 1995 to 2006. He also founded and currently directs Michigan Science Art, one of the largest groups of science illustrators working together in North America. Their most notable achievement is the completion of approximately 5,000 illustrations for the award-winning, 17-volume Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia. As a freelance design consultant and illustrator, Trumpey has worked with numerous zoos, museums and publishers across the country including: the Toledo Zoo, the Detroit Zoo, the Smithsonian / National Zoo, the North Carolina Zoo, Houghton Mifflin Publishing, Wolfe Publishing, Lippincot Publishing, Gale / Thompson Publishing, Mosby Publishing, ScienceWorks, Inc., Appleton and Lang Publishing, Glaxo-Welcome Pharmaceuticals, Not A Book Inc., and Stackpole Publishing.

Policy, Action, and Justice
Vanessa Garcia Polanco, Federal Policy Director
Becoming a Climate Smart Advocate!
As climate advocates, farmers, and eaters, how we interact with food systems tells stories of privilege, oppression, comfort, struggle, passion, and sadness of the climate crisis. This is a workshop that invites you to use writing and introspection to become an advocate.

Vanessa is an experienced leader, researcher, speaker, writer and organizer working with food, agriculture and sustainability stakeholders to create and strengthen sustainable and just food systems and communities. As a Dominican immigrant, she brings her experiences and identities to her research and advocacy activities such as Federal Policy Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition, Co Chair at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and member of the Children and Youth Constituency to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Working Group.

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2:00 - 2:55, Session 4

Elena Lioubimtseva Ph.D, Grand Valley State University
Climate Change Adaptation and Vulnerability
My areas of interest and expertise include human vulnerability monitoring and modeling, geospatial technologies, climate modeling, climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, nature-based solutions, and green and blue infrastructure planning.

Specialties: higher education, climate change impacts, human vulnerability, sustainability, resilience, land use and land cover change, GIS, satellite remote sensing, climate change adaptation and mitigation planning.


Policy, Action, and Justice
Heather Toney, Mom's Clean Air Force
Becoming a Climate Smart Advocate!

Heather McTeer Toney served as the first African-American, first female and youngest mayor of Greenville, MS.

In 2014, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Regional Administrator for Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Southeast Region, where she served until 2017. Known for her energetic and genuine commitment to people, her work has made her a national figure in public service, diversity and community engagement.

Heather led the Moms Clean Air Force field team for two years and worked on local government policy initiatives and the Moms & Mayors program. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta and a law degree from the Tulane University School of Law. Heather is currently serving as an environmental justice liaison for Environmental Defense Fund.

She loves triathlons and bacon, and at any time can be found chasing her toddler or riding in old classic cars with her husband and daughter.


3:00 - 4:00, Session 5, Panel and Closing

After closing remarks, we will turn the discussion over to student activists who have been involved in the High School Climate Change Symposium in the past.  They will talk about the challenges and opportunities of climate action as a teen and answer questions attendees have about how to make an impact themselves.