U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich Launches next round of his Youth Climate Change Challenge

Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) sat down with students at Centennial High School in Las Cruces to discuss the climate crisis. Young leaders in New Mexico and around the world recognize that the climate crisis poses the greatest threat we have ever faced. They are demanding that their elected leaders act with urgency to enact solutions to mitigate devastating climate disruptions.

“When I meet with students in New Mexico calling for climate action, I am always impressed with their depth of knowledge on climate science, their observations of how climate change is already impacting their daily lives, and their eagerness for action at both the local and global level,” said Heinrich.

Wednesday morning, Senator Heinrich participated in a dialogue with a small class of Advanced Placement Biology Students at Centennial High School and launch the 2020 Youth Climate Change Challenge. “I want to elevate the voices of young New Mexicans who are calling on all of us to literally save their future. That’s why I am launching the next round of my Youth Climate Change Challenge. For this round of submissions, I’m encouraging students from southern New Mexico to submit their ideas and share their stories about what the climate crisis means for them. The deadline for submissions from southern New Mexico is April 10, 2020,” Heinrich added.

The Youth Climate Change Challenge is an opportunity for students to use their creativity to drive home the importance of this problem. Students from grades K-12 are welcome to submit drawings, paintings, poetry, and short essays. Senator Heinrich says he plans to visit the classroom of the first-place winners and engage in a dialogue about what we need to do to confront climate change.

Senator Heinrich said he stands with students who are actively raising their voices on the climate change issue. “This rising generation of students and activists understands what we’re up against, and is willing to propose the kind of bold changes that equal the scale of that problem. Unlike previous generations who have delayed and denied climate change, I strongly believe that young people are going to be the critical catalyst for solving this issue.”

PreK Site Visit and Braided Funding Presentation

Senator Heinrich visited Jornada Elementary to meet with Superintendent Dr. Karen Trujillo and Executive Director of Early Childhood Education, Dr. Maria Artiaga. The group discussed Las Cruces Public Schools exemplary model of coordination between their Federal Head Start and N.M. PreK funding and programming.

“Here in Las Cruces we have a very nice model of how we take state funding, federal funding, title 1 funding, head-start funding, and really trying to put all of our children in a quality early childhood program,” said Dr. Karen Trujillo, Superintendent for Las Cruces Public Schools. “Right now we are working to figure out what are the most rigorous requirements for the best high quality early childhood education and figuring out on our end, how we identify and fund those programs.”

U. S. Senator Martin Heinrich Hikes the La Cueva Trail with Elementary Students and Families

Senator Heinrich participated in a hike with students and families from University Hills Elementary School, who are in a program funded by federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers funds, in a collaboration between NMSU, Friends of the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks, Ngage NM, and Las Cruces Public Schools.

An avid sportsman and conservationist, Senator Heinrich works to protect New Mexico’s public lands, watersheds, and wildlife for future generations. He worked with local communities to designate the Río Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments. Heinrich also led the effort to create the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah and Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Areas, open up public access to the Sabinoso Wilderness, establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Los Alamos, and transition the Valles Caldera National Preserve to National Park Service management.


Senator Heinrich’s Every Kid Outdoors Act, was signed into law as part of the broader John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act in March 2019. Every Kid Outdoors Act provides America’s fourth graders and their families free entrance to America’s public lands, waters, and historic sites, including national parks – more than 2,000 sites in all.

Since 2015, the Department of the Interior has offered fourth graders and their families free entrance to all federally managed public lands. Every Kid Outdoors Act codified this effort into law, which encourages further collaboration with outside organizations and help leverage additional support, while providing for new and more widespread educational opportunities.

Senator Heinrich also once served as the director of the Cottonwood Gulch Foundation, leading outdoor education trips for children in western New Mexico.

These trips brought together children who had never been to the Southwest and children from local tribal communities. In addition to hands-on learning in these landscapes, students visited local tribal communities and learned about the cultural context of the places we explored. This cultural exchange and the friendships formed gave Senator Heinrich a real appreciation for tribal communities’ unique insights and incredible connection to place. His two sons have grown up going on those same Cottonwood Gulch trips.

— Samantha Lewis, LCPS Public Relations Coordinator, 575-527-5946, slewis@lcps.net