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Timbuctoo Climate Science and Careers Summer Institute

Timbuctoo Institute [logo]

Our changing climate poses the greatest contemporary challenge we face as a human society. Understanding the causes, impacts, opportunities, and solutions requires the engagement of the best and brightest scientists, engineers, planners, managers, writers, and leaders we can produce.

But what if we are not engaging the best and the brightest in these career fields or the programs that prepare them at our colleges and universities? How can we hope to include the best solutions if we do not include the best ideas and voices at the starting point? This is a fundamental challenge when looking at the population of STEM professional and academic programs. 

Inspiring youth to become leaders and problem-solvers

We’re not including everyone, and this needs to change. The Timbuctoo Climate Science and Careers Summer Institute is designed to address this, creating awareness, access, and opportunities for academic and professional pathways to a wide range of careers related to climate, natural resource management, and the green economy.

The Institute is an interdisciplinary summer program hosting high school sophomores and juniors from systemically marginalized communities. Each intensive two-week session focuses on environmental and social justice issues considered through the lens of climate science.

Participation in the Institute is fully funded, including all meals, housing, and transportation costs. In addition, each participant who successfully completes the program will receive a $1,280 stipend ($640/week). 

Photos of students working in various settings.
Photos of students working in various settings.

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Get Involved

I am an Educator

Do you know a student interested in climate, or motivated by environmental or social justice issues? Are you looking to help students find unique and exciting opportunities that will expand their horizons and ideas of what careers exist and what pathways their future might hold? If so, we are looking for your recommendations.
Contact us at for more information or to set up an informational meeting

I am a Student

Itching to explore careers that will help you better your world, but not sure where to start? Curious to explore the outdoors and associated careers, but don’t know what they might be? Passionate about fighting climate change, or interested in working to address inequality in any of its myriad forms? If so, we are excited to meet you and have you participate in the Timbuctoo Institute this summer.

Apply Today!

Or contact us at for more information or to set up an informational meeting.

I Want to Work for Timbuctoo Institute 

We’re looking for Summer Program Assistants! If you’d like to be part of our team, check out the job details and submit your application today — the deadline is March 29. 

Application Details

Three students looking at signs and the Timbuctoo Institute logo.



Inspiration in a Name

New York’s Adirondack Park was an active landscape in the early civil rights movement, dating back to the mid-1800s. Specifically, Timbuctoo, located just outside the present-day village of Lake Placid, was the site of an early black suffrage settlement, one of eight known settlements in the Adirondacks, created to enable 3,000 black men to meet the property requirements granting them the right to vote in New York. This history of creating electoral access and opportunity at the 19th century Timbuctoo is honored and celebrated by creating educational and career access and opportunity with the 21st century Timbuctoo Institute. 

What to Expect

The Timbuctoo Institute offers a thoughtful immersive experience, beginning in Brooklyn before students travel to Kingston and Syracuse for several days, then heading to the Adirondacks for the second week. Throughout the two-week experience, students are engaged in instruction by college faculty and research staff, as well as hands-on activities, experiential learning, and guided exploration at each location. 

Days 1-2: Brooklyn (students stay at home)
Day 3: Kingston, NY (students stay in a hotel)
Days 4-5: Syracuse, NY (students say in ESF dorms)
Days 6-12: The Adirondacks, Newcomb, NY (students stay in ESF dorms)
Day 12: Return to Brooklyn

While we are in Brooklyn, students are to be dropped off in the morning and picked up in the afternoon by their parents.

Once we depart Brooklyn, students will spend their first night at the Kingston, NY Best Western, before heading to Syracuse, NY where they will stay in the Centennial Hall dormitory on SUNY ESF’s main campus. Each room has two to three beds and its own bathroom with program staff on the same floor for supervision. The dorms have air conditioning and a common space to gather and play games during guided free time.

In the Adirondacks, where we will be spending the second week of the Institute, students will stay in the bunkhouses at SUNY ESF’s Newcomb Campus. Each bunkhouse has eight beds and free-standing armoires. The bunkhouses are year-round structures and have electricity (lights and charging of any electronics) but are not air conditioned and there is no internal plumbing. Bathrooms and showers are a short walk from the bunkhouses. It is recommended to bring a toiletry or similar bag to carry personal hygiene and shower items.

Here are things you will need to bring with you:

____Daily walking shoes 
____Hiking Boots (for hiking and true field trips) 
____Long Pants (Sun, Brambles, Bugs!) 
____Long sleeved shirts (Sun, Brambles, Bugs!) 
____Short sleeved shirts 
____Daypack (a lightweight day pack will be provided) 
____Rain gear (rain jacket with hood, rain pants, rain hat) 
____Warm sweater/coat—Morning and evenings can be cool  
____Flashlight and/or headlamp  
____Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, deodorant, etc.) 
____Small Bath towel 
____Water bottle (a small water bottle will be provided) 
____Watch (optional) 
____Insect Repellant  
____Bathing Suit and Beach Towel  
____Water shoes, old sneakers, or sandals (sandals for water use must have heel strap, no flip-flops) 
____Sun/Baseball hat  
____Shower Shoes  

Optional Items:  

____Compass (app for phone) 
____Camera (if wanted in addition to phone camera) 
____ Headlamp
____Deck of cards or travel-size games

These are the things we will provide for you:

____ Backpack 
____ Journal 
____ Dry Bag

There is no cost to participate! The program covers all travel, lodging, and meals. All students will receive a stipend of $1,280 upon the successful completion of the program.

Institute and Daily Schedule

The 2024 summer sessions schedule is:
Session I: July 8 – 19
Session II: July 22 – August 2
Session III: August 5 – 16

While the final daily schedule will be released in June, here is what we did in 2023:

Days 1 & 2

Medgar Evers College campus


Orientation and an introduction to climate science, and the foundations of environmental and social justice. 

  • Learn about Medgar Evers College
  • Thematic and content foundations
  • Career conversations
  • Field trip to Newton Creek Alliance

Day 3

Travel to Kingston

Learn about social justice and food justice, visiting organizations that are addressing both issues in the community. 

  • Learn about Sojourner Truth
  • Lunch at Kingston Farm
  • Learn about the YMCA Farm Project

Days 4 & 5

SUNY ESF campus


Students learn about climate justice and explored college and careers.

  • Learn about Civil Rights along the Erie Canal
  • Tour the ESF campus
  • Discussions on social justice and climate injustice

Days 6 - 12

ESF's Newcomb Campus


Time in the mountains learning and participating in field trips and activities.

  • Leadership training modules
  • Hiking to the fire tower on Goodnow Mountain
  • Field trips to The Wild Center and John Brown’s Farm
  • Learn about climate impacts on wildlife, and forestry and forest management
  • Nightly fireside discussions
  • Paddling trip to the Hudson River
Photos from past programs.
Photos from past programs.

Upcoming Events


Session I


Session II


Session III


SUNY [logo]
Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus of New York [logo]
Medgar Evers College, The City University of New York [logo]
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [logo]
The Parkside Group [logo]
Ska-Nonh Great Law of Peace Center [logo]
Adirondack Council: Preserving Water, Air and Wildlands [logo]
NCA: Newtown Creek Alliance [logo]
Town of Esopus, New York [logo]
Kingston YMCA Farm Project [logo]
The Erie Canal Museum [logo]
The Wild Center [logo]
John Brown Lives! For freedom, human rights and climate justice [logo]
Lake Flower Landing [logo]
University at Albany, State University of New York [logo]


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Media Coverage

Timbuctoo Institute Hosts First Summer Cohort

Students explore connections between climate, social justice

Partnering Up for the Timbuctoo Project

Timbuctoo, The Summer Climate and Careers Institute Event

Exploring climate and justice from Brooklyn to the Adirondacks’ Timbuctoo 

DEC's involvement with Timbuctoo Institute


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“Timbuctoo is an experience that has impacted us in such a positive way. These memories are some of my favorites.” – Shiloh

“I believe this opportunity was very helpful toward my future.  I met people who showed me the light toward my path.” – Noel

“I loved being part of this program. I am the future and I should start now!”  – Victoria



See Our Students in Action

Check out our Instagram page to see the amazing experiences our students have at the Timbuctoo Institute! Better yet, follow us and give our posts a 💚.

Timbuctoo Instagram