Will Steger Foundation is proud to announce the winners of our Climate Generation Award. Launched in partnership with the British Council and California Air Resources Board, the Climate Generation Program is a school-based competition connecting youth leadership and environmental curriculum with climate action projects. High Schools in Minnesota were eligible to participate at no cost, and encouraged to submit action projects in the following focus areas: energy conservation, renewable energy, water conservation, transportation, purchasing, facilities, awareness/communication.
Our three winners were chosen through a competitive process with final judging provided by the Will Steger Foundation Climate Champions, 10 dynamic youth leaders between the ages of 16 and 26 located across the Midwest. Winning projects were chosen for their authentic youth engagement, their environmental impact, and their integration of curriculum and other formal/informal learning opportunities.
First place went to Mahtomedi High School for their Zephyr Wind Turbine Project. Students, faculty, administrators, and community members worked together to generate public support and funding for the project which has already broken ground on school property. The project also includes curriculum developed in partnership with the University of Minnesota. Mahtomedi High School will receive a $1500 award to honor their work and support next steps
Two schools were tied for second place. Edina High School was chosen for it’s Water Bottle Filling Station Project, aimed at reducing plastic bottle waste and encouraging the use of reusable water bottles. The Project Earth group worked closely with their faculty advisor to create peer buy-in for the project, generate public awareness and build financial support through a series of creative fundraising efforts. Edina High School will receive a $500 award to honor their project and support further implementation.
Pine Island High School was also chosen for second place. The high school Environmental Club conducted an extensive survey of paper use and waste through out the school and was able to significantly expand it’s recycling program by securing new bins for each classroom and large plastic collectors in the hallways. The club also presented to the school board in support of hand-dryers in school bathrooms as means to reducing paper consumption and waste. They are currently in the process of securing support for this installation. Pine Island also received the $500 award in honor and support of their efforts.
Not only is it exciting to see concrete examples of school-based solutions addressing the climate crisis, it is even more significant to see students taking an active role in selecting and launching these projects in their communities. With active peer engagement, project visibility grows. It is our hope that these projects will inspire continued youth initiative on solutions and create a culture-shift from consumption to conservation on these campuses, and in schools across the state.