The Sun Valley Institute’s annual conference often aims at global issues and international guests—but this year it’s giving local youth a chance to take on topics that matter to them.

Its inaugural summit for high school students, called “Claiming Our Future: Youth Action for a Resilient World,” will run parallel to the fifth annual Sun Valley Forum this month from July 23-25 at the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum. The topic on the table: environmental issues, including climate change.

“Young people are fearlessly owning their future with urgency and effectiveness as models for all of us,” said Sun Valley Institute founder and Executive Director Aimée Christensen. “The Youth Council asked for the opportunity to convene like-minded student leaders and change-makers, and have co-designed the three-day summit. We are honored that the Sun Valley Forum will support these young leaders by connecting them to global experts and innovators with whom they can take their work forward.”

The event will culminate nearly seven months of work for the institute’s Youth Council, which includes six Blaine County students representing three high schools: Trinity Hadam, Laine Whittier and Isabella Cronin of the Sage School; Abbie and Britta Heaphy of Wood River High School; and Maria Mendoza of the Sun Valley Community School.

They’ve been meeting with their out-of-state peers since January to organize the event, Youth Forum coordinator Lexie Praggastis said.

“To me, it felt really important to have all of the local high schools represented, as building community resilience relies on everyone coming together and working together,” she said. The students have offered such valuable opinions about topics that are important to them and challenges they personally are facing around sustainability, and we’re able to work to tailor the event specifically to that.”

Students ranging from incoming ninth-graders to outgoing 12th-graders can apply to participate at sunvalleyforum.com/youth-forum/. The three-day conference costs $250 and includes meals plus a rafting trip, but not lodging.

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