The Youth Environmental Activists of MN (YEA!MN), a program of the Will Steger Foundation, planned and facilitated a Young People’s March to the capitol in support of strengthening our state’s commitment to clean, renewable energy. They marched to the capitol to join the Minnesota Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign Day of Action. After hearing from notable speakers such as Governor Mark Dayton, Senator John Marty, and Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chair of YEA!MN Katie Mercer-Taylor took the stage and gave a striking and powerful message about the future of our youth.
I’m Katie Mercer-Taylor. I’m a student at Roseville Area High School and Co-chair of the Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota. I’m very proud to see so many members of our strong and growing youth environmental movement here today. We come from many different communities and backgrounds, but we stand united today because our generation’s future depends on continuing the transition to renewable energy right now.
We young people are here today because we know that within our lifetimes, our generation will see environmental changes that threaten the things we love most about Minnesota- from our clean lakes and rivers to the winters we’ve learned to love. Transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable sources will help us protect these natural resources for ourselves and for our children.
Renewable energy policies are also crucial to our future job market. The renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors in Minnesota have the potential to provide many of the high-paying career opportunities we want to take on after we graduate. When we harness Minnesota’s natural and technological resources, we can create jobs building a clean and reliable energy system.
I feel incredibly honored to be speaking today alongside these amazing leaders, who are an inspiration to me and to other young people across our state. But I wish that we didn’t have to be here at all. I’ll be graduating from high school next month, and I wish that all I had to worry about was studying for final exams. I wish that our generation could just focus on finishing school or starting our careers. But instead we are here today, at the Capitol, because we can’t afford to wait until we’re comfortably settled into our lives. Transitioning to renewable energy will help us create a healthy and prosperous future for Minnesota—but only if we start right here and right now, with people of all ages standing with us.
As your children, we ask you to be courageous in your leadership and to remember the impacts your decisions will have on our future. We are youth. Protect our future!