A delegation of local residents, students, and staff members from the Wild Center leaves for Finland today to take part in a summit on climate action.
The group is taking part in a project entitled "Connecting Finnish and Adirondack Communities: Science Museums Facilitating Awareness and Action on Climate and Energy."
The project is being coordinated through the Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad program, an off-shoot of the American Association of Museums.
Participants hope to facilitate an "exchange of experiences" between communities in Finland and the Adirondacks, with a focus on energy saving, climate issues, and "green practices." The project also aims to raise awareness about sustainable tourism.
A team of Finnish residents came to the Adirondacks late last year to participate in the second annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, hosted by the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Events in Finland are being coordinated by Heureka - the Finnish Science Center.
At the heart of last fall's discussion was winter recreation, sports and culture in the Adirondack Park. Officials say Finland and the Adirondacks share similar climates and landscapes, and both rely heavily on tourism and recreation to spur economic growth.
The local contingent leaving today for Scandinavia includes: Gail Brill of the Adirondack Green Circle; Tammy Morgan, an environmental science teacher at Lake Placid High School; Dan Coffrin, a senior at LPHS; Meadow Hackett, a senior at Saranac Lake High School; Bryan Larson, a senior at Tupper Lake High School; Stephanie Ratcliffe, executive director of the Wild Center; and Jen Kretser, director of programs at the Wild Center.
Gail Brill says residents of the Adirondacks can learn a lot from Finland - just as Finnish communities can learn from the Adirondack Park.
"It's about relationship-building, it's about seeing with our own eyes what's happening there and what they're doing - it's touching, smelling, tasting and all of those other things that come into play when you have face time somewhere, which we don't always have a lot of," she said.
According to officials with the Wild Center, highlights of the trip include a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Finland Bruce J. Oreck and a discussion with Pekka Sauri on developing low-carbon economies.
Sauri is deputy mayor of the city of Helsinki.
Brill says the local delegation will spend a lot of time at the Finnish Science Center and traveling around the Helsinki area.
"Every day we're doing something else exciting," she said. "We're going to meet with the head of agriculture there and we're going to meet with the ambassador to Finland, which is also exciting. There won't be much down time, which is great because our time is limited and we want to make the most of it."
The Tri-Lakes delegation will be posting updates about their trip on the Wild Center's Facebook page and at a blog - www.adkcap.org.
The delegation returns from Finland on March 6.