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National Geographic photojournalist Tom Clyne to be keynote speaker at Student Expo

  • Tom Clyne, keynote speaker

 Local Students Invent Resilience Strategies

- National Geographic Photojournalist Is Keynote, Student Expo -

One group of students tested multiple types of solar cookers to bake nachos and pizza. They now estimate that if everyone at Waters Middle School, their Portsmouth school, used their preferred solar cooker only once a year, that would save as much energy as turning off 720 light bulbs for an hour.  “They also really like that it gives people a chance to cook and boil water in a natural disaster,” says Marlee Fuller-Morris, Elizabeth River Project.

Fuller-Morris and other educators of the non-profit spent the last year working with students from a dozen area schools to discover hope through action. The students planned and carried out projects to help their schools and communities become more resilient to rising seas and other changing climate conditions. About 100 student delegates from the schools will showcase  results Saturday at the Elizabeth River Project’s first “Youth Resilience Expo” at Nauticus.

Keynote speaker Tom Clynes, a contributing photojournalist to National Geographic, will motivate the students to continue such efforts with his talk, “The Art of Audacity,” featuring his documentaries of unlikely environmental heroes around the globe. Clynes’ address at 10 am is free and open to the public but reservations are required (email The media is welcome to attend throughout the Expo, to be from 10 am to 1 pm with judges to announce awards for the best student projects starting at 12:30pm.

Other projects range from a “mini rain garden” at Taylor Elementary School in Norfolk to Wilson High School students in Portsmouth who researched solar phone chargers and have been selling them to fellow students and even their school superintendent.    

Clyne, the Expo’s keynote speaker, is also a contributor to Newsweek, The New York Times, and The Atlantic, and is the author of Wild Planet and The Boy Who Played With Fusion.

In preparation for their projects, many of the students also undertook “sea level resilience” field investigations aboard the Elizabeth River Project’s Dominion Energy Learning Barge and Paradise Creek Nature Park, and planted wetlands they grew in the classroom. A Youth Resilience Roundtable convened by Elizabeth River Project recommended an annual Youth Resilience Expo to inspire and reward students for their actions. Door prizes include a drawing for a free bike.

Funds for the program come from grants to Elizabeth River Project from NOAA’s Environmental Literacy Grant Program, the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and Dollar Tree Foundation. Student resilience awards were sponsored by the Norfolk Rotary Club.