Youth Conference to Promote Student Leadership in Sustainability

Bay Area youth aren’t waiting to take charge of their future. On Saturday, November 2, 2013, they’ll be demonstrating their leadership and advocacy at the first-ever Youth for the Environment and Sustainability Conference. Dubbed the “YES Conference,” this day-long program will promote sustainable transportation solutions developed by the youth themselves. Middle- and high-schools students from across the nine-county Bay Area will join teachers, parents and community leaders to discuss how students can help lead local efforts to reduce pollution, decrease congestion and improve street safety.

MTC and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) created the YES Conference as part of their Spare the Air Youth Program, recognizing that the under-18 crowd could dramatically impact climate change by adopting cleaner transportation habits. Because car travel, including daily school trips, is a major source of pollution in the Bay Area, students’ efforts to promote bike, transit, and carpool “can go a long way towards improving air quality,” says BAAQMD Executive Officer Jack Broadbent.

The YES Conference is the “first regional forum that gathers youth from together to talk about transportation and climate change in the Bay Area,” according to MTC’s Leslie Lara, who has been on the YES planning committee since its inception. A similar conference in NY focuses exclusively on bicycling, while the National Safe Routes to Schools conference “is more for the practitioners than for kids,” Lara said. The YES Conference, by contrast, is specifically intended “to foster collaboration between students who live in very different communities so they can learn from each other,” explains MTC chair and Orinda Mayor Amy Worth. As such, the YES Conference aims to promote youth advocacy, communication and leadership skills along with healthy and sustainable transportation habits.

YES Conference participants will discuss the link between transportation and climate change, exchange community engagement and safety strategies, and learn practical skills like bike mechanics. Youth will also get to experience all the elements of a professional conference including poster sessions, keynote speakers, a choice of break-out sessions and complimentary breakfast and lunch with their peers, all at MTC headquarters in downtown Oakland.

Participants will also hear from two keynote speakers. Student Jasmine Jolly is a dedicated bicyclist and the youngest rider to complete the California Climate Ride, an event that raises money for active transportation and environmental causes. Jolly will offer insights from her experience as a cycling advocate and a panelist at the 2013 National Safe Routes to Schools Conference, where she spoke about how to motivate youth to take action on climate change. Adult speaker Simon Dunne will share the creative strategies that he developed as global advocacy manager for world-class bicycle maker Specialized Bicycle, where he focuses on encouraging youth to make sustainable transportation choices.

Students are being encouraged to start practicing sustainable transportation strategies even before they arrive on site. Youth who take public transit to get to the YES Conference will be rewarded with a $5 Clipper® Card, while participants from the North and South Bay are encouraged to catch a ride on one of the YES Conference shuttle buses.

An agenda and complete information about the YES Conference is available at: Participants under 18 years of age must have parent/guardian permission to attend.


The first-ever YES Conference (Youth for the Environment and Sustainability) will take place on Saturday, November 2, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter at 101 Eighth Street in Oakland. Admission is free, although space is limited. Register online now.

The Joseph P. Bort Metro Center is located at 101 Eighth Street in Oakland, by the Lake Merritt BART station. Students are encourage to take BART and to explore other transit options at

In the North and South Bay, students can share a ride to the YES Conference on a shuttle bus from one of the following locations:

  • Fairfield Transportation Center, 2000 Cadenasso Drive, Fairfield [8:30 a.m.]
  • Trek Bicycle Parking Lot, 512 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa [8:00 a.m.]
  • Bus pad at Smith Ranch Rd. & Lucas Valley Rd., San Rafael [8:45 a.m.]
  • San Jose Diridon Station, 65 Cahill St., San Jose [8:30 a.m.]


  • Date: Saturday, November 2, 2013
  • Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Place: Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter, 101 8th Street, Oakland (by the Lake Merritt BART station)