YEA! MN Students Hard at Work as Community Leaders

YEA! MN students at Power Shift 2013
YEA! MN students at Power Shift 2013

It has been a great first semester for YEA! MN this year. I met most of the students for the first time at our Steering Committee kick-off meeting in August. It was two days after I started and I had little idea what to expect. 15 students and myself had pizza in one of the co-chairs attic bedrooms, and while the temperatures are frigid now, it was a sticky, hot, and humid first meeting. Noneless, I was inspired by their plans for the semester and ability to work as a team. From that first meeting on I have not been let down.

This fall I traveled with 17 students to Power Shift 2013 where we learned about the wide variety of issues and struggles intersecting with the environmental movement from diverse corners of the country, and what is being done to mitigate and solve climate change.

Since Power Shift little has slowed down. Student-led action projects continue to pick up speed at schools and YEA! MN leaders continue to get more involved in their communities. Central High School Roots and Shoots has gotten another giant step closer to securing a hydration station as part of their waste reduction campaign by successfully fundraising the entire project. South High School Green Tigers has completed a paper towel reduction project and are planning ways to engage other students in waste reduction, as well as forming coalitions to address other issues at school together. Hopkins High School Earth Club received a grant for the start of building a green building on campus, including solar panels and a green roof (learn more about the Hopkins HS project through their student blog: http://bit.ly/1dy5l6V).

While students have been working steadily on their projects they have not stopped learning about or wrestling with the tough issues. We’ve had speakers come to Steering Committee meetings including Patience Caso from the Hennepin County Green Partners Environmental Education Program, Timothy DenHerder-Thomas from Grand Aspirations, and many more. Not only have speakers sparked on-going conversations, students are independently talking and thinking about specific issues, controversies, and how they can make a genuine impact in their communities.

As I began planning for next semester I became more and more eager to for the year to begin. Students are excited to grow their projects, recruit more students, and participate and lead within the broader community. We are planning youth movie nights and our annual Youth Lobby Day in the next few months. I am excited to see what 2014 will bring!

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