Environmental Debate

Developing tomorrow's leaders

PEA’s Environmental Debate Program develops young environmental leaders with the skills, knowledge, and passion to become change-makers in the community. Each year, students debate a topic that addresses a key environmental issue of our time, including solutions to the impending climate crisis.

Debate is a fun and powerful way for students to develop critical thinking skills, question the status quo, and deepen understanding of key environmental topics.  Studies have shown the benefits and advantages of high school debate for nearly every type of student from every cultural and socioeconomic background – high school debate students graduate at higher rates, score better on ACT and SAT tests, get into better colleges, and perform better once in college. 

PEA’s Debate Program recruits students to form their own debate teams in local high schools, giving students the opportunity to engage in competitive, academic debate on leading environmental issues. PEA partners with Wake Forest’s debate team to engage with student and teacher participants, and provide skills-training workshops, information packets, and research materials to any interested high school student in the Piedmont region. The culmination of the program is the annual one-day tournament, where students debate both sides of a controversial environmental topic. 

High school teachers are invited to serve as advisors to student teams, and $100 mini grants are available to teacher advisors that bring 3 or more teams to participate. No experience is required for students or teachers, and PEA will work with you throughout the process to provide materials and assistance as needed.

Sign up as a coach or student today


   Program in partnership with Wake Debate 



2022 Environmental Debate Tournament

Piedmont Environmental Alliance and Wake Debate are excited to co-host the 2022 Environmental Debate Tournament for high school students.

Date: March 19, 2022

Topic: There should be a nationwide moratorium on concentrated animal feeding operations.

The winners of the semi-finals will have the opportunity to debate in front of a larger audience at the Piedmont Earth Day Fair.

Lunch and prizes provided for all participating students.

The 2022 Research Guide can be found here.

Are you a student or teacher interested in learning more or participating? 

Contact us

Ready to commit?

Register today 

Environmental Debate Proudly Sponsored By:

Why Debate? Just ask the students...

 "Participating in this debate was an invaluable experience because I learned how to convey my thoughts and feelings as well as 
just plain facts to an audience. This debate gave me the confidence to be in front of people I don't know. This has continually helped me 
in all of my classes and endeavors."
- McAllister Stowe, Mt. Tabor High School 
I learned so much about how to build and deliver an effective argument, which has helped me in many other areas of my life. I was 
also able to greatly expand my knowledge about agriculture and the environmental implications associated with it. Since the 
debate, I have been able to view situations in general more analytically and I look for logical reasoning in issues. 
- Austin Smith, Career Center ​
 "I have always wanted to be part of a debate team but my school didn't have one... After the first few rounds, most of the nerves melted 
away, and debating began to feel more second nature. I was able to become comfortable with educated arguments and
 public speaking, all while exploring the ins and outs of a very important issue."
- Ethan Austin, Atkins High & 2016 Debate Winner 

Student Spotlight



"By using debate as a tool, PEA really brought to our attention many environmental issues, and gave us academic and citizenship skills that many of us simply hadn't been exposed to."

Rohan Kapileshwari, a sophomore at Atkins High School, had never participated in debate before signing up for the PEA Environmental Debate Tournament in 2016. He and his partner Ethan Austin won the debate semi-finals on March 12, 2016 and went on to win the final round of the tournament at the Piedmont Earth Day Fair on April 23, 2016. After participating in the PEA Debate Program, Rohan went on to participate and win a statewide debate tournament and participated in a national debate competition.