This December, Minnesotans experienced some of the warmest early-winter weather in recent memory, which could be a taste of what’s to come in a warming world – 2015 is expected to surpass 2014 as the hottest year on record by a sizeable margin, and climate change continues to play a role in the extreme weather we’re seeing around the globe. True to our identity as Northerners, the mild, snowless December caused consternation among many, along with worries that some of our favorite winter pastimes would be jeopardized.
Given how much Minnesotans value the climate and environment that characterize our state, it should come as no surprise that local residents and businesses are rallying around efforts to preserve all of the things that make “the North” great – including our cold, snowy winters. Earlier this fall, Minnesota outdoor clothing company Askov Finlayson forged a pioneering partnership with Climate Generation, called Keep The North Cold, around this very idea. The purpose was to generate awareness of climate change’s impacts on Minnesota as well as support for our climate change youth education work. The partnership built off of Askov Finlayson co-founder Eric Dayton’s long-running relationship with Will Steger: Dayton joined Steger’s 2004 Arctic Transect expedition whose mission was to increase awareness of climate change impacts on the Arctic region. Like Climate Generation, Askov Finlayson believes that education is a key part of efforts to address climate change.
Throughout the fall and early winter, Askov Finlayson made a donation for every “North” product sold to contribute to our climate change youth education efforts, and held several special events to promote the partnership. During the weekend after Thanksgiving, they donated 10% of all online and in-store sales to Climate Generation. On December 23rd, Askov Finlayson partnered with Uber to deliver North hats on demand – and donated the proceeds from that day to us as well. All told, Keep The North Cold raised over $10,000 in 2015 to support our efforts to educate and empower the next generation of climate leaders, who are already at work on climate solutions that will protect the state we all love so well.
With Askov Finlayson’s support, we’re reaching hundreds of high school students across Minnesota through our Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA! MN) program, which provides climate literacy training, networking, and action project opportunities for high school environmental club leaders. We are thrilled that our partnership with Askov Finlayson will continue in 2016.
Impact of Askov Finlayson’s support, by the numbers:
- Over 3,000 students reached this past year through our YEA! MN program
- 10 Metro-area schools currently involved in YEA! MN steering committee
- 3 climate literacy trainings held at YEA! MN and YES! (Youth Energy Summit) meetings this fall for over 300 youth
- 15 students regularly attending YEA! MN leadership meetings – receiving climate literacy trainings, leadership development, and action opportunities
Impact of Askov Finlayson’s support, in the words of a youth leader:
One of our YEA! MN co-chairs, South High School senior Kendra Roedl, shares her experience with the program:
Climate Generation: What motivated you to become involved with YEA! MN?
Kendra: After attending the national Powershift conference during my sophomore year in 2013, I decided I wanted to take my environmental activism and leadership a step further. At the time, I was involved in South High’s Green Team, but wasn’t sure how my work fit into the greater community. Powershift helped me see the intersectionality between environmental issues and other community issues, and so when I returned to Minnesota, I decided to start attending YEA! MN meetings, which made me much more accountable to the needs of my broader community.
Climate Generation: How has your involvement in YEA! MN developed your climate literacy and leadership skills?
Kendra: I already knew the basics of climate science, but YEA! MN helped me see how climate change is relevant in my life, and what is happening with climate change now. We do have climate literacy trainings every year, which is helpful, but the best part of YEA! MN is that it pairs knowledge about climate change with opportunities to enact positive change in our communities. Through YEA! MN, I’ve learned organizing skills that have helped me take on more leadership in my high school environmental club, I’ve attended skill-building workshops and events and I’ve become better connected to the Twin Cities environmental community. Overall, this experience has made me more of an engaged citizen – I know how political systems really work, and how individuals can be empowered to make change. All of my time at YEA! MN has been a great learning experience, going above and beyond what I’m learning at school; we call it “extra- extracurricular.”