Nichole Berg & Kimberly Howard on Educating on Climate Change

Today, the Getting Smart team is bringing you an interesting episode on educating on climate change with Nichole Berg and Kimberly Howard.

Nichole Berg is the program’s manager for climate change and climate justice at Portland Public Schools where she leads efforts to support the school board’s groundbreaking climate literacy solution. Joining Berg in this interview is Kimberly Howard, the Program Officer at Portland General Electric, as well as the sponsor for the development of a climate change curriculum.

Together, Nichole, Kimberly, and Tom discuss the school board’s initiative to empower youth leaders and to create more opportunities around civic engagement — specifically around climate change, why Portland General Electric cares so passionately about climate change and why they ultimately decided to partner with Portland Public Schools, and how the curriculum at Portland Public Schools is being developed in partnership with PGE.

Listen in as they talk to Tom Vander Ark about educating for climate change!

Key Takeaways:
[:10] About today’s episode!
[:44] Tom welcomes Nichole and Kimberly to the podcast.
[1:47] Nichole’s background as a bilingual educator and moving into a role in climate change and justice.
[5:30] Background on the groundbreaking 2016 policy that addressed climate change: Portland Board of Education Resolution 5272. Where it came from, what it said, and why it was so groundbreaking.
[7:38] In 2019, students rallied around the school board wanting to see a systematic change from the policy. They wanted to be empowered as youth leaders and to help create more opportunities around civic engagement. The role Nichole currently holds was created to coordinate and facilitate this effort.
[9:37] Why Portland General Electric passionately cares about climate change and why they ultimately decided to partner with Portland Public Schools.
[13:06] As an experienced actor, how did Kimberly come to lead a corporate social responsibility initiative?
[16:52] “The Way It Is,” by William Stafford; how it relates to both of Nichole’s and Kimberly’s backgrounds and how it has brought them together for this really exciting initiative.
[18:37] Nichole addresses some of the skepticism and concerns from the public around having a public energy company sponsor their climate curriculum. She also shares how Kimberly’s and her partnership is very symbiotic, positive, and helpful for the students.
[22:20] How the curriculum at Portland Public Schools is being developed.
[24:29] How PGE employees will be involved with the Portland Public Schools’ initiative.
[26:17] An example of how PGE partnered with a high school to develop a 50-year energy plan.
[29:38] Kimberly describes what success looks like regarding the climate change curriculum.
[33:05] Nichole shares what success looks like for her regarding the climate change curriculum.
[33:57] Tom thanks Nichole and Kimberly for joining the podcast!

Mentioned in This Episode:
National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program
Portland Board of Education Resolution 5272
Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility
“The Way It Is,” by William Stafford
Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford, by Kim Stafford
Energy Institute High School

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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