Enrollment is now open for the upcoming session of the Community Environmental Council’s (CEC)  Climate Stewards certification course, designed to empower local residents to take action on climate change.

CEC is the first and only nonprofit on the Central Coast to deliver the Climate Stewards certification program, and one of only a handful across the state.

“The climate crisis is too big and complex to be solved by  a single organization, policy, or system. We must mobilize people and resources to ensure that the climate crisis is seen as an immediate, real, and present danger that affects just about every issue we care about.,” said Sigrid Wright, CEO of CEC.

“That’s why we are building a committed corps of volunteer leaders ready to effectively engage in transformative local solutions to promote community and ecosystem resilience in a changing climat,” she said.

Led by Kathi King, CEC’s director of Climate Education and Leadership, the eight-week course equips participants with insight into how they can participate in the transformative work CEC and other groups are doing on the Central Coast to address and alleviate climate impacts.

“We are focused on educating and empowering new climate leaders,” said King. “It’s inspiring to see the ripple effect of the over 80 course alumni to date who are making a positive impact throughout their Central Coast communities and beyond.”

To date, a network of more than 30 programs, working in partnership with the University of California, have certified more than 600 climate stewards throughout California. 

Each cohort consists of a diverse group of about 25 individuals. The Winter 2023 course will meet weekly Jan. 25 through March 22. Class sessions are held online via Zoom, along with a few in-person field trips on Saturdays.

Course fee is $225, which covers the cost of instructor time for classes and field trips, as well as University of California course fees. Scholarships are available for those who express financial need, and no one will be turned away due to lack of funds.

Prospective participants are invited to hear more about the course from Climate Steward alumni during a webinar, 6:30-7:30 p.m.  Jan. 12. To learn more and register for the webinar, visit www.cecsb.org/webinars.

The 40-plus hour course curriculum includes online modules, peer-to-peer discussions, small group activities, hands-on and inquiry-based activities, and experiential learning over a ten-week period.

Participants will gain access to climate action resources and opportunities to join the movement; and will graduate with a better understanding of the psychology and science behind climate change, the tools necessary to forge greater community connections, and the knowledge to effectively communicate the climate crisis.

The course curriculum includes a capstone project giving participants a chance to explore a passion project. Previous capstones have succeeded in adding climate programs and messaging at foundations, large nonprofits, city governments, and retirement communities.

A number of course graduates have gone on to integrate climate action into their professional and volunteer efforts. 

Christina Hernandez, who completed the program, was recently sworn in as a Guadalupe City Council member, and brought her climate action commitment to her new role.

“Being a member of our community and local organization allows me to know where my heart and passion is,” she said. “It allows me as a council member to know the needs of the community, which is why I chose to serve in this capacity.”

Jenna Tosh, CEO of Planned Parenthood California Central Coast, graduated from the course in early 2022. 

“What I enjoyed most about the climate stewards course was the opportunity to move beyond all of the tragic and heartbreaking aspects of the climate crisis and move into the hope and the solutions that exist, and the practical ways that people like me can be part of an inclusive movement to address the climate crisis here on the Central Coast,” she said.

Learn more and apply for CEC’s UC Climate Stewards program at cecsb.org/climate-stewards.