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Sun Valley Forum to Feature Youth in Search of Answers
Sunday, July 7, 2019


Young people will make a stand for their future at the first ever youth forum during the Sun Valley Institute’s fifth annual Sun Valley Forum.

Between 30 and 45 youth—including some from Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Austin--are expected to take part in Claiming our Future: Youth Action for a Resilient World July 23-26 at the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum.

It’s a youth forum organized by and for high school students from across the nation in search of solutions to challenges to people and the planet.

They will listen to some of the same speakers that the adults will be listening to, including military strategists talking about the risks climate change poses to military security

But they will also have their own speakers, including Kelsey Juliana, Vic Barrett and Jamie Margolin.

Juliana was 15 when she filed a lawsuit against the Oregon governor claiming the state had violated its duty to protect the water, land and atmosphere. She deferred her first semester at college to participate in The Great March for Climate Action walking 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.

Barrett, who is rom low-lying land in New York threatened by rising sea levels, spoke at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris and is a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by Our Children’s Trust against the U.S. government for failing to act to protect the climate for future generations.

And Margolin is a 17-year-old Seattle teenager who founded the youth climate action organization Zero Hour two years ago after seeing the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and how difficult it was to breathe when smoke from Canadian wildfires shrouded her hometown. She also is a plaintiff in a lawsuit suing the state of Washington for their inaction against climate change.

The youth will also have opportunities to work on action plans and projects at innovation laboratories.

“They want to learn and act, they want to be inspired and empowered,” said Aimee Christensen,  founder of the Sun Valley Institute.

The youth forum was proposed by Ruby Horton, a Los Angeles teenager, who came to a forum with her father two years ago.

“While I listened to many wonderful and intelligent adults discuss the importance of leaving a better world for the younger generation, I realized I was the only person under 18 in the room,” she said. “At that moment I knew I wanted to broaden the forum to give the younger generation their chance to get involved before it’s too late.”

Horton said one of the crises that worries her the most is the future of the oceans.

“Not only the rapid loss of sea life and increase of plastic in the ocean, but also the melting polar ice caps that are posing many threats to life in the Arctic and all around the world. In order to counter or challenge the effects of climate change in my day to day life, I avoid using plastic products and I have convinced my whole family to drive electric cars. I also am on the leadership board for my school's sustainability club where we organize events to get our school involved in sustainable practices. I attended a climate strike recently organized by teens which was very inspiring. That is not to say that my generation is doing quite enough. I think that especially with the power of social media, we have the ability to do much more since, after all, it is our future.”

In addition to networking, the youth will pick food at Bloom Farm and cook it under the guidance of a chef. They will also enjoy a dinner at Forest Service Park and at Galena Lodge. They will spend the final day rafting the Salmon River and enjoying an afternoon at the lake near Stanley.

“I’m so excited by them—they give me hope,” said Christensen. “I find young people are clear about how important and imperative it is to take action. Adults often get cynical and think they can’t make a difference. The youth are demanding action by adults and spending three days with us is really a big step.”

The Forum gathers several hundred global leaders and innovators from grassroots doers to high-level influencers in government, business, philanthropy media and the arts to investigate complex global problems and general radical solutions for the world’s uncertain future.

To attend, register at


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