The Power of Partnership

Letter from the Executive Director

Audubon Center Solar Panels
Audubon Center of the North Woods Solar Array

Carbon dioxide levels in the Arctic have now reached 400 ppm and climate scientists consider 350 ppm to be the safe level to avoid catastrophic changes. What does this mean? It means a number of important things – but what stands out is that the amount of CO2  in the atmosphere today is the minimum level we’re going to live with for the indefinite future since it will stay there for hundreds of years. It’s as though you gained the most weight in your life, and knew you’d never weigh even a single pound less, ever.

Yes, this is a very alarming reality. However, at the same time we are finding ways to reduce our energy consumption and empower action at the local level. We were part of a group that brought former Colorado Governor Ritter to Minnesota to learn and share ideas on how we can continue to lead on a clean energy economy through strong policy, including areas like energy efficiency, conservation and renewables. We also took a tour last week of the Audubon Center of the North Woods – an education partner and potential host-site for our educator professional development opportunities on energy and climate change. We were impressed by their commitment to reduce their carbon footprint by 80% in 10 years! They have made a variety of simple, inexpensive energy savings measures like insulation, low-flow water systems, and replacing all of their lighting prior to implementing renewable energy sources. Once they reduced their energy use as low as they could, they then implemented a geo-thermal heat pump system, solar PV arrays, solar hot water heating, solar air heat, and a wind generator. With these changes the Center has already reduced their energy use by over 70% and drastically reduced its dependence of fossil fuel sources of energy. We applaud their efforts as an example of what can be done to lessen our impact.


Nicole Rom, Executive Director


2012 Summer Institute for Climate Change Education

Summer Institute 2012Register for the 2012 Summer Institute to get your copy of the 2nd edition of the Minnesota’s Changing Climate curriculum! The 2012 Summer Institute will feature speakers and breakout sessions on climate change basics, Minnesota’s biomes, phenology, youth engagement and much more. Mileage reimbursement and accommodations are also available for those traveling over 150 miles round-trip within Minnesota to attend. The Summer Institute will take place August 7 and 8 at the School of Environmental Studies in Apple Valley, MN. Registration is filling, so apply today!

Welcome Back, Libby

Libby FonesWe would like to welcome Libby Fones back for another fantastic summer as an education intern! Libby will be a junior at Whitman College in the fall and has been a regular volunteer with us since she was a senior at St. Paul Academy.



Emerging Leaders

SoS whole_group-fixed Image via: Grand Aspirations – Summer of Solutions – Twin Cities

Our Twin Cities high school environmental leadership program, YEA! MN is gearing up for its annual end of the year retreat.  The retreat will take place at Piney Hill Farm, an organic CSA (community supported agriculture) farm in Wisconsin.  At the retreat YEA! MN students will work on the farm, learn about organic agriculture from Piney Hill farmers, recap the year, begin planning for next year, hang out, and have fun! 

Midwest youth engaged in the RE-AMP network are ready to participate in the network’s upcoming annual meeting in Chicago. Youth leaders from across the Midwest will have the opportunity to organize a youth-led workshop, give a short dinner presentation, and lead a breakout session during the conference. These opportunities will allow youth to showcase the incredible work they have accomplished this year and will invigorate plans for next year.

Youth across the Midwest are actively engaged in local climate solutions this summer. Grand Aspirations’ Summer of Solutions kicked off their programming all across the country (6 of 16 programs are in the Midwest!). In addition, WISPIRG’s Energy Service Corps recently kicked off its summer program by hiring and training more than 20 AmeriCorps Volunteers to work on energy efficiency initiatives in the state of Wisconsin. Initiatives like the “Our Power Campaign” (Cooperative Energy Futures and Grand Aspirations) in the Twin Cities or the “Youth-YAOTL” campaign (Little Village Environmental Justice Organization) in Chicago have been promoting positive environmental change and youth involvement in these community-driven programs.

In The News

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Duluth News Tribune

Director of Education, Kristen Poppleton, responds to Congressman Chip Cravaack’s amendment to eliminate funding for the National Science Foundation’s Climate Change Education Program.

Read More

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The Line

The Line Media covers Gorilla Yogi, a local group of yoga enthusiasts who stage impromptu exercise sessions and raise money for local charities and non-profit organizations. The Will Steger Foundation was one of the recipients.

Read more


Help Us Send Two Million Letters Supporting Limits to Carbon Pollution! Image via: Fresh Energy

Help Us Send Two Million Letters Supporting Limits to Carbon Pollution!

The Obama Administration has taken a major step toward addressing climate change by proposing the first-ever national limits on dangerous carbon pollution from new power plants. But with polluters fighting back, we need to show there is massive public support for the new safeguard.

Urge the EPA to adopt this new protection essential to protecting our planet and the health of our families.

Take action!

Photo of the Month

We are pleased to announce that Minnesota’s Changing Climate: Engaging Students in Environmental Stewardship has won the 2012 Environmental Initiative Awards in the Environmental Education Category. The Environmental Initiative Awards annually honor innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary environmental results by harnessing the power of partnership.

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(L/R) Heidi Ferris, educator; Leigh Currie, WSF board member; Nicole Rom (front), WSF Executive Director; Kristen Poppleton, WSF Director of Education; Ann Benson, WSF Education Program Assistant; Janet Brown, WSF Operations Director; Lyndon Torstenson, National Parks Service; and John Shepard, CGEE/Hamline University.


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