Despite the decision by the current administration to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, we are already seeing leadership from cities, states and the private sector to fill the void in climate leadership. From Minnesota announcing it will join 12 other states to commit to the Paris accord goals, to the cities of St. Paul, Minneapolis and Burnsville joining hundreds of cities across the country pledging to move forward, to over 1000 businesses committing to climate action, leadership is happening at all scales and it is needed now more than ever.
We hosted our inaugural Climate Communications for Business Leaders workshop less than week after the President announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Over 50 leaders representing 40 businesses, small to large, joined us for a three-hour session focusing on the science of climate change, businesses leading by example, and communications and action strategies for their workplace. We left the morning feeling hopeful and motivated by these Twin Cities businesses that are stepping up to assume strong climate leadership.
Our YEA! MN program wrapped up another successful year this month – as one student shared: “I am incredibly grateful for all of the lessons I’ve learned through this amazing program this past year. I’ll remember the inspiring people I’ve met and the valuable things I’ve been taught as I embark on my next steps in the environmental movement. I can’t wait to I can carry my newfound YEA! MN wisdom into a bigger world!”
Our Education Program is gearing up for our 12th annual Summer Institute on Climate Change Education, June 26-29, engaging 50 teachers representing 10+ states from around the country. Over the past decade, we’ve worked with over 700 educators to increase their confidence and competence to teach climate change in their classrooms and we’re excited to welcome a new cohort of educators later this month.
We are also saying goodbye after almost three years to our wonderful Communications Coordinator, Katie Siegner, who is pursuing graduate studies at Yale this fall, with a focus on climate change communications and environmental policy. Katie brought boundless energy and enthusiasm to our organization and her work, supporting unique partnerships, like our inaugural Dine for Climate series, our Climate Minnesota public outreach project, and Brewing a Better Climate events. She also worked closely with our staff to amp up our our visibility and exposure, while working with educators and youth leaders to hone their public policy and communication skills. Anyone who came in contact with Katie knows what a joy she is to work with. We will all dearly miss Katie, but wish her all the best in her next chapter.
We are thankful for the overwhelmingly positive response to the release of our Climate Convenings Toolkit and the personal notes of support we received from educators and supporters as the news of the Paris Agreement came in. As our founder Will Steger noted at our Climate Communications workshop and in a recent interview with MPR’s Climate Cast, this is our catalyst for action. It’s time for us all to lead.
Nicole Rom, Executive Director
12th annual Summer Institute features outdoor education field trip
We are coming down to the final weeks before the Summer Institute, with registration closing last week, and our staff and new intern are busily preparing for the arrival of over 50 educators! On the last day of the Institute this year, we will take teachers on a field trip to the University of Minnesota’s Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. In this unique outdoor education opportunity, educators will visit the sites where experiments are being conducted to understand the effect of climate change on different ecosystems in Minnesota. We’ll meet with researchers, collect real-world phenological, soil and air data, make connections between abiotic and biotic factors, and discuss lessons learned for educators to take back to their classrooms.
Climate change education in the news
The New York Times recently ran an excellent piece on climate change education, and the reporter, Amy Harmon, is continuing to solicit stories about educators, parents, and students and their experience with climate change in the classroom. Share your story here, and you could be the subject of her next article! In a similar vein, the Washington Post also came out with a great article exploring the intersection of climate change and outdoor education in Idaho, and Yale Climate Connections covered teachers’ reactions to the misleading Heartland Institute mailing that continues to make its way into schools around the country.
Building climate literacy and action among business leaders
On Wednesday, June 7, we convened over 50 Twin Cities business leaders at the McKnight Foundation office for a three-hour workshop on climate communications and actions they could take in their workplaces. Participating businesses ranged from the local – Seward Co-op, Birchwood Cafe, and Askov Finlayson – to the multinational – Avangrid Renewables, Best Buy, General Mills, Aveda and others. The interactive workshop offered multiple opportunities for businesses to share their climate commitments, including a storytelling panel featuring Laura Bishop of Best Buy, Eric Dayton of Askov Finlayson, and Nicolle VanWie of ESG Architects. In addition, action group breakouts gave participants the chance to learn more about specific climate change solutions, from energy efficiency, to deeper climate communications skills, to the circular economy. Learn more about this impactful day by visiting our recap page.
YEA! MN year-end retreat
YEA! MN ended the school year with an adventure in Rice Lake State Park. Jason and Abby traveled with members of the Core, interns, and rising leaders to camp together and celebrate our year’s work. We hiked and paddled through gale-force winds (at least, that’s how it felt). We roasted vegan smores and the students reflected on the year’s highlights, helping shape an even stronger program for next year. The retreat finished with a visit to Young Peoples Action Coalition in Northfield, where young climate justice organizers are training youth leaders to make change. It’s worth a visit, where you’re sure to sing a rousing rendition of “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round” with a banjo twang.
Tribute to the YEA! MN graduating seniors
Climate Generation had the honor of working with several incredible high school seniors this year. We wish them each well in their journeys ahead! Some are traveling abroad, some are off to college, and all are set to continue leading their part of the just transition to a climate resilient future. We send a giant thank you and congratulations to the graduating seniors who showed up big with Climate Generation this year: Anya, Claire, Elisabeth, Felicia, Greta, Isabel, Isabel, Mike, Nhan, Nora, Ubah, and Zoe. May your road forward be filled with new learnings and climate actions. See you at the next YEA! MN Winter Mingler!
How will you step up for climate change solutions?
Ever since the Trump administration’s misguided decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, we’ve seen a resurgence of climate action pledges from the local government, higher education, and business sectors. Commitments to uphold the Paris Agreement have coalesced in the “We Are Still In” coalition, which now numbers over 1200 businesses, 250 cities, 185 colleges and universities, and 12 states. Together, this coalition aims to meet or even exceed the U.S. target of the Paris Agreement, and its ranks are growing every day. What’s more, several cities have stepped up in the wake of the decision and committed to 100% clean energy goals, including Pittsburgh and Santa Barbara. How will you up your climate action to meet this current moment? We urge you to consider adding something to your climate commitments, or deepening the work you’re already doing now. Need inspiration? Check out our Take Action page.
Attend our free public forum: Climate Change in the Age of Alternative Facts
Climate change is not an alternative fact. It is real, it is happening, and 97% of scientists support this consensus. At our free public forum on Monday, June 26 from 7-8 pm at the Humphrey School’s Cowles Auditorium, you’ll hear from two leading climate scientists and academics, Dr. Ben Santer and Dr. Jessica Hellmann, on how they’re seeing climate change misinformation show up today and what they’re doing to address it. Join us before the forum for a reception with our Summer Institute educators from 6-7 pm, just outside Cowles Auditorium! Learn more about this event and RSVP here: Climate Change in the Age of Alternative Facts.
In an interview with Paul Huttner on MPR’s Climate Cast, our founder Will Steger discussed his experience traversing Antarctica, and the changes he’s seeing in polar ice shelves. With the Larsen C shelf poised to collapse any day now, Will highlighted the importance of Arctic ice and the fast-moving changes occurring in the polar regions.
Our Executive Director Nicole Rom was interviewed by WCCO the day after Trump announced his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. Her message to the world: “We’re motivated by the fact that companies, the private sector, are on our side; clean energy is thriving; history is on our side. President Trump’s action doesn’t change that momentum, and we are going to continue to see action at all scales to advance climate change solutions.”