Sayville Students Train with Al Gore

  • Sayville High School Senior trained by former U.S. Vice President 

    Al Gore on Climate Change



    After seeing the effects of climate change on Long Island, Sayville HS senior Chloe Gaconnier, business owner Lori Giambanco, and education and outreach coordinator with the Central Pine Barrens Commission, Melissa Parrott become Climate Reality Leaders, being trained by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore on Climate Change.


    All three Sayville residents recently attended the training by Al Gore in Denver, Colorado and now join over 4,000 other Climate Leaders from around the world in presenting new information on climate change to the public. 

    They were accompanied by over 909 delegates from 32 countries this month to receive training from Mr. Gore and the Climate Reality team to develop the necessary skills to bring an understanding of the climate crisis to the world and their local communities.  


    Vice President Gore was joined by an impressive list of world class scientists, communicators, and climate experts discussing the impact of the climate crisis around the world and particularly in the U.S. Climate Reality Leaders like Gaconnier, Parrott and Giambanco emerged from the training equipped with the knowledge and tools to build public awareness of global climate challenges, and communicate about the solutions we can implement, and offer public support for leaders at all levels of society working toward climate action.  From spring arriving one month early, sea level rise and storm systems hurting our homes and barrier islands, to the costs of invasive species moving north, like the Southern pine beetle, something needs to be done.


    This is Melissa Parrott’s second Climate Reality training and she was energized at the opportunity to meet Mr. Gore, stating, “When I knew I needed to learn more about the climate crisis to make a difference, the first person I thought of to help with this was Mr. Gore.  Meeting him in person and being given the opportunity to be trained by him on climate science was a big thank you for what I am about to do”.


    Gaconnier, a Sayville high school senior agreed and was excited about the opportunity, “I saw the Climate Reality Project training as an opportunity to learn how to communicate the severity of climate change to those skeptical of the premise”.  Gaconnier was one of several high school students in attendance.  “ It was amazing to see how the new Administration’s lack of environmental support had not discouraged any of the trainees, but filled them with the motivation to deal out their most passionate efforts”. Gaconnier continued, “ I hope to bring the stories of the amazing people I have met with me as I expand on the importance of climate action and how it is essential for local and global success”.  The Climate Reality Project had several break out sessions specifically for the youth attendees who ranged from 6-17 to support and help guide them.


    The training highlighted some of the climate impacts of New York and other states that have suffered in recent years and may encounter in the future. Rising temperatures and increasingly unpredictable weather threaten the region.  “We are seeing how much our seasons have changed over the last couple years” said Melissa Parrott, “it is warmer longer, winter is shorter, less rain, less snow, we are in a state of draught and storms are stronger.  We saw from super storm Sandy what that can bring to Long Island, we want to help prepare for the future and talk about the solutions”. 


    These challenges require a powerful, unified response, and the training equipped the Climate Reality Leaders to mobilize their communities around viable, clean energy solutions.


    “What’s really cool is from the conference and training, we established the Suffolk Student Climate Action Committee,” said Melissa, “we hope to have chapters in high schools through out Suffolk County to empower the students to act and create change.  They will meet with their local elected officials, create petitions and understand their voice can make a difference.  It’s all about renewable, clean energy solutions.  It’s better to change laws than light bulbs!”.


    “What makes this training so powerful is it is bi-partisan.  We were sitting in a room full of Republicans, Tea Party, Independents and yes, Democrats”, said Melissa.  


    Business leaders are also a part of the solutions to climate change, “All my life I have lived on Long Island and have seen the changes in our water bodies and landscapes.  The bay is over harvested, our woodlands and farms are being torn down for housing without thinking about why Long Island is so unique and I don’t want our uniqueness to go away”, says Sal’s pizza owner Lori Giambanco. “On a personal level, we do as much as we can to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible.  We do what we can to offset the carbon footprint with our business as well and if I can learn more to tell others why this is important- I will.”  Ms. Giambanco was one of several business leaders in the audience.


    Parrott continues, “Our goal is to help and support our local business and communities to go renewable- 100% by 2030.   Other cities have done it, so can we. We can be a leader to help reduce the impacts of climate change ,it’s a win-win”.

    If you are interested in a presentation on “The case for optimism on climate change”, please contact the Climate Reality website ( or email Melissa Parrott at


    • More information on the Climate Reality Project is available at

    About the Climate Reality Project


    Founded by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project is one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to mobilizing action on climate change. With a global movement more than 5 million strong and a grassroots network of trained Climate Reality Leader activists, we are spreading the truth about the climate crisis and building popular support for clean energy solutions. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @ClimateReality.





    Melissa Griffiths Parrott

    Education and Outreach Coordinator

    Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission