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November 13, 2023

The USGS Southeast Region and the Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASC) jointly sponsored the ninth Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Climate Change Conference.

The ninth Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Climate Change conference was hosted by the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice’s HBCU Climate Change Consortium. The consortium is comprised of 30 colleges and universities throughout the Southeast U.S. and was created to help raise awareness about the disproportionate impact of environmental justice and climate change on marginalized communities.  

A woman with brown hair wearing a grey shirt and black pants reads an informative card about careers in the USGS.
CASC Fellow uses the USGS Career Cards to better understand what career opportunities may exists within the USGS.

This year’s conference successfully brought together a diverse group of scholars, students, environmental activists, and policymakers to share outcomes and results from academic research and activism pertaining to pressing issues of environmental justice and climate change. The conference hosted an impressive lineup of keynote speakers, including renowned climate scientists, environmental justice advocates, and government officials. Notable speakers included Keith Ellison, Minnesota Attorney General, and Denae King, Ph.D., Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University, who shared their insights and experiences with attendees.

The conference is organized for and led by students. Five CASC fellows were able to attend, with four presenting their research. Additionally, USGS attendees from the Southeast Region, National CASC, Southeast CASC, and Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity (DEO) staffed an exhibit to highlight and share the breadth of career opportunities offered at the USGS, including environment and climate science. During the Career Fair, the USGS staff shared information on the various internships offered by the USGS and expanded relationships with HBCUs students, advocates, and other federal government organizations.

USGS staff had the opportunity to engage with the CASC fellows, as this was the second year the SE CASC sponsored the travel for them. The talks provided a platform for lively debates and knowledge-sharing among attendees. Additionally, student mentorship for participants during the poster session allowed students to further expound on academic research.

Two women stand next to each other as they look over the conference room of people and informational booths.
CASC Fellows visit exhibitors during the break to learn more about opportunities and projects supporting environmental and climate justice.

Although the agenda was packed with presentations that increased awareness and understanding of disproportionate impacts and established connections with students and organizations for future collaboration, USGS staff took time to experience the annular solar eclipse of 2023. The eclipse was a perfect way to share the exciting aspects of science and science careers with conference attendees.

The ninth annual HBCU Climate Change Conference is pivotal in the ongoing fight for environmental justice and addressing climate change. It not only raised awareness about the disproportionate impact of climate change on underserved communities but also empowered attendees to act. We look forward to and are confident the USGS will continue to inspire and drive positive change. 

Roxanne Lamb 

Environmental Justice Program Coordinator 

Kirk Rodgers 

Hydrologist, Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center 

Doug Beard 

Chief, National Climate Adaptation Science Centers 

Alessandra Jerolleman 

Climate Justice Lead Climate Adaptation Science Centers 

Cielo Sharkus 

Diverse Knowledge Systems for Climate Adaptation Fellow 

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