YEA! MN Students Ride the Bus to the People’s Climate March

YEA! MN Sign Making
YEA! MN student make their own banner to carry in the People’s Climate March

The new school year is just under way and YEA! MN is already hard at work.  We kicked off the fall season with the YEA! MN Student Action Training to shake of the summer dust and get students geared up as critical leaders in their school communities.  Eleven students from 7 different Twin Cities high schools spent their last Saturday afternoon of the summer learning new tools to empower their success as youth organizers in their school environmental clubs.

The Student Action Training was designed to help students jump-start the year prepared to rebuild their student teams and launch/re-launch climate action projects on campus. Many earth club leaders begin the year having never managed a club, planned a local campaign, or facilitated a meeting. For most of our students this is their first significant leadership experience – and one that will lay the ground work for years to come. The training allowed students to connect with one another and gain the fundamental skills needed to become more confident and effective in their own leadership.  After a series of workshops, including Climate Change 101, Recruitment, and Leadership Development, our newly elected student Co-Chairs kicked-off the first YEA! MN Steering Committee meeting of the year.

The YEA! MN Steering Committee is open to every high school student who wants to participate, with an emphasis on earth club leaders and other youth who want to take initiative on sustainability in their schools.  Students set the agenda for these meetings and the elected Co-Chairs facilitate.  In the past, the Steering Committee has been a place where we have held discussions on environmental justice, climate literacy, skills trainings, and planning for our large events.  At our first meeting this year we brainstormed what we want to continue from last year’s program and what new events and activities we want to try in the coming school year.

As the YEA! MN Program Coordinator, September finds me busy meeting with earth clubs, supporting action project planning at schools, and assisting the sharing of best practices at steering committee meetings.  Looking ahead to November we are also getting ready for Youth CAN! – a high school climate justice convergence planned by and for youth. Check it out here.

Tomorrow 10 students and myself will join over 300 Minnesotans embarking on a 22-hour bus ride to New York City to represent the Will Steger Foundation and youth around the globe at the People’s Climate March.  We’ve gotten the permission forms turned in, figured out bus logistics, and had our parent information meeting.  The students and myself are energized to be a part of this historic event.  I’ve also been looking forward to this for additional reasons.  I’m excited not only for our students to take part in something huge and meaningful, but also to support the transfer of their experiences back home to their schools and communities – to help them think about how they can build the movement and continue to take action.  We know large events like this matter, but so does a local student-led action project on their campus – and so do the individual conversations they will be having with parents, teachers and friends about how important climate change is when they get home.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@YEAMN) and experience the weekend through the eyes of a teenager. Check back for student blogs from the YEA! MN delegation.

A core program of the Will Steger Foundation, YEA! MN supports a network of high school environmental clubs working together across the Twin Cities Metro to empower student leadership on climate change solutions, facilitate shared skills and strategies, and take coordinated action at home, at school, and in the wider community.

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