‘Start listening to us:’ Local students create climate change art for Earth Day

Artwork created by local students was installed at the Village at Squaw Valley on Wednesday as part of Earth Day.
Justin Scacco /
Guests at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows take a moment away from the slopes to view artwork created by local students for Earth Day.
Justin Scacco /
Local students work on their part of the Earth Day project that was installed in the Village at Squaw Valley.
Courtesy photo
Ahead of Earth Day local students created banners displaying different aspects of climate change.
Courtesy photo

Amid melting snow and spring temperatures at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, a group of skiers stop in the resort’s village to take in a freshly installed piece of artwork created by local students.

The skiers slowly circle the collaborative effort from the area’s youngsters, talking among themselves about what skiing at the iconic resort might look like decades from now as they eye each piece displaying different aspects of climate change.

“If we inform a certain amount of people about climate change, and then they inform other people about climate change, maybe it will make a larger impact and people will start listening to us,” said sixth grader Talia Meng on the project.

COVID-Safe Earth Day

With Earth Day events across the Truckee-Tahoe area canceled or minimized due to COVID-19, students from Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, Alder Creek Middle School, and Tahoe Expedition Academy teamed with the North Tahoe Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the Tahoe Youth Action Team to create an art piece centered on climate change.

The circular display, erected Wednesday in Squaw Valley’s village, shows off a handful of banners created by students to show various effects of climate change. Truckee’s Mountain Forge brought in high school students to build the metal stands for the interpretive banners.

“In my experience, connecting educational experiences with real world issues often engages students, enhances curriculum and adds depth to student understanding,” said teacher Lorenzo Worster, from Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, in a news release. “Climate change has not only been called the defining issue of our generation, but also connects with so many topics within the subject of science that it was easily connected to an area of study at each of the participating schools.”

Starting roughly two months ago, youngsters have steadily worked to put together the exhibit, which uses British climate scientist Ed Hawkins’ climate warming stripes to create visual representations of increased temperatures, rising CO2 levels, wildfires, endangered species, and other aspects of climate change as part of Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s COVID-safe Earth Day.

Hawkins originally created the climate warming stripes to provide an easy-to-understand visual representation of the increasing temperatures seen across the globe. Following a timeline from the start of the Industrial Revolution to present day, local students used the stripes, ranging from blue for cooler temperatures to red for warmer years, as part of their presentations.

“I have a teenage son and it has been something that I’ve been acutely aware of for a number of years that the world he’s inheriting is not the world I grew up in,” said Sara Smith, Tahoe artist and co-chair of the Truckee Arts Alliance. “So, what can we do about that and what impacts can we create? I feel like giving people a creative voice, and a visible voice can be a profound tool. I’m a big believer in art that includes.”

The work done by the students shows information on temperature change, endangered species, population growth, wildfires, CO2 emissions and other metrics following a timeline from the 1850s until now.

“They were thinking about the data itself, but they were also thinking about issues of visual language — how do I take this idea and make it a visual symbol, make it something that people can look at and understand,” said Deirdre Henderson, group leader of North Tahoe Citizens’ Climate Lobby. “It was an incredible learning process for them.”

The Earth Day climate warming stripes will be on display in the Village at Squaw Valley through the weekend.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a nonprofit, organization that seeks to empower citizens to create the political will for national climate solutions. For more information, visit

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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