At Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, evidence of climate change is easily observed. Since 2012, the sanctuary lost six feet of shoreline to erosion according to sanctuary naturalist Liz Dengenis. It was a dramatic loss considering it’s taken 20 years for the shoreline to recede 20 feet. Ms. Dengenis said the erosion was related to sea level rise and increased storm activity.

On Friday though, there was a different kind of evidence of climate change at Felix Neck: 200 enthusiastic Island students were gathered at the nature preserve to think about solutions. The first Island Youth Climate Summit brought kids ages 10 to 18 from four different Vineyard schools for a day of discussions, learning, art and action.

“There’s a lot to be done. And if anyone’s going to do it, it’s going to be students,” said Josey Kirkland, education coordinator for Felix Neck. “The main outcomes and goals have been coming together around the climate issue,” she said. “But also solution-based hope.”

Four different Vineyard schools participated.

Indeed, hope and creativity were the order of the day. Ms. Kirkland cited recent activism around banning plastic water bottles and discouraging the use of plastic straws as examples of what can be accomplished when young people are dedicated to making change.

Charter school junior Kathryn Cuthbert said she has been researching local impacts of human development on the environment including algae blooms from nitrogen loading in Island ponds. She led a discussion on those impacts and others.

“It’s getting warmer, so there are more tick borne illnesses and mosquitoes,” she said. “There’s a health impact.”

Fellow charter school junior Ethan Taylor said he appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with students from other schools.

“It’s just been really nice to get the charter and the regional working together on something. That doesn’t happen a lot,” he said.

At the climate summit, there were presentations from the Island Grown Initiative, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, the Vineyard Conservation Society, state representative Dylan Fernandes, and others. The summit was organized by Ms. Kirkland and charter school social sciences teacher Jonah Maidoff.

Dylan Fernandes spoke with students including Owen Favreau, left, one of the summit leaders. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Students wrote letters to their legislators, had roundtable discussions, made a nature inspired dance with the Yard, took an educational walk around the property, and upcycled old T-shirts. At the end of the day students were asked to complete climate action plans.

“I think doing events like this is really one of the best ways you can ensure some sort of understanding of climate issues in the future,” said Aidan Donovan, a charter school senior who helped to organize the event.

“We were trying to go for a positive education. There’s ways to teach climate change where it’s not so positive because it is a hard subject to talk about in a positive manner,” added regional high school junior Emily Gazzaniga, who was also on the leadership team. “Our goal was to kind of spread awareness and positivity around it since that’s what will make the difference in the long run.”

Owen Favreau, a regional high school junior and the third member of the core planning team, said it seemed the event had legs.

“From what I’ve heard, definitely people want to do this again,” he said.