The Institute for Non-formal Climate Change Education was held at the beautiful Audubon Center of the Northwoods in Sandstone, MN, March 13-15, 2017. Over 60 people attended the Institute from various backgrounds and communities with a common goal; to learn how to better communicate about climate change and engage people in collective solutions. The Northwoods provided a great backdrop setting to dive deep into the issue of climate change, and the residential training allowed for organic conversations to form over shared meals, in rooms, at evening activities, and walks in the woods.

The Institute was focused on guiding people’s understanding of climate change, how to communicate about it, and how to engage their communities in solutions. The Institute followed the framework each day of answering these questions:

Day 1: What is climate change?
Day 2: How should we talk about climate change?
Day 3: How do I apply what I learned to what I do?

Tuesday was entirely presented by Abby Moore, Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, and Emily Bowen, Great Lakes Aquarium, both certified trainers through the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation. NNOCCI is working to establish a national network of professionals who are skilled in communicating and translating climate and ocean science to broad public audiences. Their goal is to change the nature of public conversation about issues of climate change to be inviting, empowering, and solutions-oriented.

After attending the Institute, the three most popular words people chosen to describe how they felt were hopeful, energized, and connected.

Resources Shared


Day 1

10:30 AM-11:30 AM Arrival and Registration

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM Introduction
Biome Meet and Greet
Gallery Run

1:30 PM Becoming Climate Leaders

2:00 PM Climate Change: Science and Solutions
Climate Generation Presentation

4:00 PM Audubon Sustainability Tour
Deep Dive Into Climate Change Q&A

5:00 PM Break

5:30 PM Dinner

7:00 PM Evening Session: Before the Flood
Film Screening and Discussion

Day 2

8:00 AM Breakfast

9:00 AM National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI) – Introduction
NNOCCI Presentation (PDF 5.3MB)

10:30-11:45AM NNOCCI- Strategic Framing and Composing Your Story (PDF 313KB)

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM NNOCCI- Values, Explanatory Metaphor, Solutions, and Composing Your Story
Solutions Worksheet (PDF 85KB)
Swamp Graphic (PDF 329KB)

3:30 PM NNOCCI- Framing On Your Feet, Ways to Get Involved, Evaluations
Reframe Cards

Heat-Trapping Blanket  (PDF 112KB)
Protection (PDF 69KB)
Responsible Management (PDF 63KB)

5:30 PM Dinner

7:00 PM Evening Session: What is Your Climate Story?
Storytelling Worksheet

Day 3

7:45 AM Breakfast and Check Out

Session A 8:30 AM-9:30AM
Session B 9:45AM-10:45AM
Planning 11:00AM- 11:30AM

Action Workshops (choose two options)

Public Engagement
Youth Engagement
Citizen Engagement
Teacher Engagement
Place-Based, Equitable Engagement (PDF 5.7MB)
Nature-Based Engagement

11:30 AM Lunch

12:30 PM Share Commitments and Take-Aways

1:00 PM Evaluation and Depart

Participant Testimonials

“I met some really great people, and discovered some great resources. I also gained hope in the movement throughout Minnesota toward a sustainable future.”

“I’ve told several colleagues that I’m possibly most impressed that I left a climate change institute feeling optimistic, energized, engaged and activated.”

“Being with like minded people of all ages was inspiring. I love the conversation model taught, the interactive games, and the focus on solutions.”