Gustavus students demand action on climate change by marching out of school on Friday. (Courtesy photo | Sean Neilson)

Gustavus students demand action on climate change by marching out of school on Friday. (Courtesy photo | Sean Neilson)

Third graders organize climate march

Nearly a fifth of Gustavus turns out for event

For Cisco Van Derhoff and Bay White, a recent school project involved rallying dozens of people and taking aim at a global issue.

The two Gustavus third-graders organized a march Friday to join forces with children around the country who marched out of school March 15 to demand action on climate change. In a phone interview Friday, Van Derhoff said he heard about the marches from his friend Greg and wanted to try and organize a similar event in Gustavus.

A week later, Van Derhoff and White led more than 80 people through the streets of Gustavus holding signs demanding action. The community’s population is 440, according to the 2017 census, meaning that the march’s turnout was just under 20 percent of the town.

Van Derhoff said putting the march together was more work than he originally thought.

“There are so many little steps, all those little steps led up to this big big event,” Cisco said, “and it was really worth it.”

[Juneau turns out for March for Science]

Bay White speaks into a megaphone alongside Cisco Van Derhoff, right, at their climate action march on Friday in Gustavus. (Courtesy photo | Iris White)

Bay White speaks into a megaphone alongside Cisco Van Derhoff, right, at their climate action march on Friday in Gustavus. (Courtesy photo | Iris White)

The two 9-year-olds, who are in homeschool, both said they’ve seen winters get warmer in recent years and have watched as snow turns to rain. Sybil Van Derhoff, Cisco’s mother and their homeschool teacher, said the boys were originally going to end their current science unit with a different final project.

The original final project was putting together a brochure about climate change in Alaska to hand out to cruise passengers, but when Cisco heard about the marches around the country, he and White started pushing to change their final project.

“They were so fired up that they talked me into changing the final project and doing this instead,” Sybil said. “It’s been really sweet to watch and very humbling to see two little kids that are fired up about an issue can really rally a lot of support in this town.”

The boys said they hope more students around Southeast take action and express that they care about the environment’s future. They’ve been spreading the word already. The night before the march, they talked on the phone with Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau. A few hours after the march, they spoke over the phone with Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau. The boys said it was exciting to talk with people who were in such high positions in the state.

[Dunleavy dissolves climate action team]

The event also featured Zach Brown, executive director of the Inian Islands Institute, who gave a speech to the youngsters about how they can make a difference. The Inian Islands Institute is a nonprofit that seeks to educate children in Southeast and beyond about taking care of the environment. The boys said Brown’s speech focused on the fact that the future is “not the grownups’ future, it’s mainly the kids’ future.”

Iris White, 13, who took photos and helped with the event, said the Earth’s future belongs to more than just this generation of children.

“I think it’s really important because it’s all our futures and this is our future we’re fighting for, and our kids and grandkids,” Iris said. “It’s really important that we have a good world to grow up in.”

Gustavus students demand action on climate change by marching out of school on Friday. (Courtesy photo | Iris White)

Gustavus students demand action on climate change by marching out of school on Friday. (Courtesy photo | Iris White)


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

Bartlett Regional Hospital’s crisis stabilization center during its unveiling on June 14, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital shuts down programs at recently opened Aurora Behavioral Health Center

Crisis stabalization program halted at center due to lack of funds and staff, officials say.

A car on Gastineau Avenue is partially buried by a mudslide that occurred during record rainfall on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Photo by Simba Blackman)
New July rainfall record set for Juneau with a week to go; Suicide Basin nears 2023 fill level

No more heavy storms expected this month, according to forecaster.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. Board of Trustees votes for a new chair and vice chair during a meeting in Fairbanks on Wednesday. (Screenshot from APFC livestream)
Ellie Rubenstein resigns from Permanent Fund board, Ethan Schutt displaced as chair in wake of email allegations

Trustees elect new chair, vice chair Wednesday morning; Rubenstein announces resignation hours later

Police and other emergency officials treat Steven Kissack after he was shot on Front Street on Monday, July 15, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Names of officers involved in death of Steven Kissack released, along with more details of standoff

JPD states Kissack threatened to kill officers; one officer who fired gun cleared in 2016 shooting.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, speaks on Jan. 4, 2024, at a town hall meeting on the possible Albertsons-Kroger grocery merger. The meeting was held at the Teamsters Local 959 headquarters in Anchorage. Peltola said on Tuesday she has not decided whether to support her party’s likely candidate, Vice President Kamala Harris. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Rep. Mary Peltola withholds support for Kamala Harris, is ‘keeping an open mind’

Congresswoman says she’s considering Harris presidency’s affect on Alaska as an oil-dependent state.

People arrive for a service at Resurrection Lutheran Church on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Lawsuit: Resurrection Lutheran Church leaders have been ousted, clarity in ‘ministerial work’ needed

Pastor Karen Perkins, two others targeted in long-brewing feud at church known for helping homeless.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, July 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, July 20, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read