WINTER HARBOR — Climate change is having major impacts on the natural world.

At the same time, today’s youth, beguiled by electronics, appear to be tuned out of nature.

This leaves older generations with two problems: how to address or at least adapt to climate change; and how to encourage children to re-engage with nature, so they will be ready to become environmental stewards.

These were topics discussed by U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell during an Aug. 15 visit to Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Education and Research Center.

“It takes a village to raise a national park system,” Jewell said. “Acadia is an example of that village in action from its early days, from the contributions of philanthropists, the sweat equity of volunteers, the commitment of the folks who wear green and gray, the volunteers who support them every day, people who write checks, people who advocate, people who do research and citizen scientists.”

Jewell’s visit came in the wake of contests conducted earlier this year by USA Today and Good Morning America that ranked Acadia as a visitor favorite among national parks. She was joined by National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, SERC Advisory Council member David Rockefeller Jr., ANP Superintendent Sheridan Steele, SERC chairman Alan Goldstein, National Park Foundation chief Neil Mulholland and SERC President and CEO Mark Berry for an event highlighting the partnership between NPS and SERC to engage youth and facilitate research.

Jarvis highlighted numerous climate change impacts: melting glaciers at Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks; Lake Mead’s reduced water level; western wildfires burning longer; species migrating north and up; disappearing alpine habitats; Acadia’s destructive insects, diseases, storms and ocean acidification.

“Some of the parks have the potential of losing their namesake,” Jarvis said. “Glacier National Park, in 20 or 30 years, will have no glaciers. Joshua Tree National Park will have no Joshua trees.”

At one time, he said, the thought was to restore protected areas to pre-human conditions.

“What we’re realizing is that paradigm is no longer viable,” Jarvis said. “Because we’re seeing changes across the system, driven by climate, we cannot re-create vignettes of primitive America,” she said. “So we have to think of a different paradigm.”

With SERC, the largest research center connected to a national park, Acadia has become a center for rethinking the issues, Jarvis said.

Jewell said constrained federal resources and a “generational transformation” complicates the problem of climate change.

Retiring baby-boomers, she said, must pass their knowledge to up-and-coming generations.

“We need a mind meld between the young and the young-at-heart,” she said.

To that end, Jewell discussed her department’s recently launched “youth initiative.”

This aims to develop or enhance outdoor recreation partnerships in 50 cities over four years to create new opportunities for outdoor play for more than 10 million young people; to provide educational opportunities to at least 10 million K-12 students; to engage 1 million additional volunteers annually on public lands, tripling current volunteer numbers; and to provide 100,000 work and training opportunities to youth and veterans through public-private partnerships, by raising $20 million from private and corporate donors.

“I have a fundamental belief that, as human beings, we need nature, to be whole. We need nature, to feed our souls,” Jewell said. “As we move to cities and urban areas, we leave nature behind. So let’s reach out, take a child by the hand, and bring her to a park. Let’s reach out to communities”¦and make sure everyone knows our public lands are their public lands. Together we can craft a future that may not completely address the issues of climate change, but will adapt to the issues of climate change; that will not be as constrained in resources because people care; that will engage that next generation and future generations to come.”