Climate Corps Begins its Second Year

Climate Corps Class
Climate Corps students role playing in a mock town hearing. Here, a town resident (upper right) is testifying before the Town Council (left), as local reporters take notes (foreground).

With the start of the fall semester, the UConn Climate Corps began its second year of operation with 24 students enrolled. The Climate Corps is a unique blend of classroom education, service learning, and Extension outreach supported by the Provost’s Office. Students take a fall semester class that emphasizes town-level impacts, issues and responses related to climate change. They can then choose to go on to the spring semester, where student teams work with town officials on various projects related to climate resiliency. The goal is to give the students some practical real-world experience as they get ready to enter the work force, while at the same time providing meaningful assistance to towns attempting to plan for climate change with meager resources. Last spring the Corps students worked with three communities and a multi-town land trust on five projects, ranging from “downspout disconnection” stormwater programs to town applications to FEMA’s Community Rating System (a program where towns that document sufficient resiliency practices can quality for reduced flood insurance rates for residents). The Climate Corps model has also engendered a second program, the Brownfields Corps, part of the Connecticut Brownfields Initiative led by the School of Engineering. The many partners involved in these efforts hope to bring on the Stormwater Corps as a third offering, and coordinate and administer them as one program under the name Environment Corps.