MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? On April 19-21, college and high school students from across Vermont will converge on Middlebury College for the Power Shift Vermont Youth Climate Conference. Power Shift Vermont will focus on empowering and educating Vermont youth with the tools they need to take action on the climate crisis and find solutions. The conference includes a weekend of events followed by a trip to Montpelier on Monday, April 21, to lobby lawmakers for strong legislation aimed at combating climate change. There is a $10 registration fee for the conference. Registration begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, in the social space of McCullough Student Center, located on Old Chapel Road off College Street (Route 125).

The weekend conference begins Saturday, April 19. Following registration, students will hear speeches from distinguished climate leaders Betsy Taylor, co-founder and board president of 1Sky, and Vermont State Rep. David Zuckerman, chair of the Agriculture Committee. On Sunday, April 20, students will choose from an array of panels, workshops and discussions on topics dedicated to solving the climate crisis in Vermont. Closing speakers include Vermont Rep. Gaye Symington, Speaker of the House, Will Bates, co-founder of Step It Up! and 350.org, and Jon Isham, Middlebury College Luce Professor of International Environmental Economics.

Over the weekend students will also prepare to lobby legislators at the Statehouse in Montpelier with the help of Johanna Miller of the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) and James Moore of Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG). On their trip to Montpelier, students will rally at the Statehouse at 10 a.m. in support of the Vermont Senate bill S.350, which cuts Vermont carbon emissions at least 75 percent by 2050. They will also advocate for the creation of a green jobs program in Vermont and encourage renewable energy and sustainability in all sectors, including heating and transportation. They will meet with lawmakers throughout the day to discuss these issues.

The name of the proposed Vermont Senate bill, 350, is also the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, measured in parts per million or ppm, that some experts recommend the world must reach to avert catastrophic climate change. Students are joining with a global effort called www.350.org to call on Vermont to take the lead in this worldwide mission to reduce global CO2 levels in the atmosphere to 350 ppm. During the rally at the Statehouse the students will form a giant 350 as part of their efforts to press for the bill’s passage.

The Power Shift Vermont conference is organized by Middlebury College’s Sunday Night Group, a student organization dedicated to finding solutions to global climate change. A full conference schedule, list of panels, registration, and other information can be found online at http://www.powershiftvermont.org. For more information, contact student organizer Julie Erickson at 413-687-1987.