Youth Convening Minnesota (YCM) is a 7-month leadership opportunity for high school youth to learn about climate change and gain the leadership skills needed to convene their local community on climate change and inspire solutions.
This generation, meaning everyone alive today, has been the first to really experience the effects of climate change and shoulders the greatest responsibility to address it. Young people are inheriting the consequences from decades of poor environmental decisions, yet youth are also powerfully positioned to lead their communities in conversations on climate change and insist on action. The Youth Convening Minnesota project was designed with this understanding — to elevate the voices of youth as critical messengers.
Climate Generation coaches and mentors YCM youth leaders through school visits, in-person workshops, and monthly virtual meetings. Pre- and post-evaluation surveys show that YCM youth participants increase their confidence in communicating about climate change, hone leadership skills, gain understanding on how to inspire engagement in solutions, and realize that they have an important stake in shaping Minnesota’s future.
What our youth say about Youth Convening MN:
For things to improve, people need to understand that climate change is happening now, and it has or will affect them; they need to know that they can help change that. Over the years I have realized the only ones who can do that and fix mistakes made by past generations is my own generation and future generations. The youth are left with this responsibility and our voices must be heard. That is why I joined Youth Convening Minnesota; Climate Generation has helped me speak out and prepare for my future.
—Emma Swenson (Moorhead)
[While I was preparing for this event, I was surprised to discover] the magnitude of what’s going on and how a lot of people don’t realize what’s happening.
—Katie Dorry (Warba)
I got involved in Youth Convening Minnesota.. Because I want to be apart of raising awareness of these issues and solutions.
—Zaria Romero (Rochester)
What is a convening?
Each convening provides a combination of science, personal stories from community members, and local solutions. When balanced with the science, the stories shared at convenings feature the lived experiences and observations of climate change from people on the ground and help emphasize the motivation for solutions. Convenings conclude with solutions workshops led by local resource providers.
Take a look at each element of our convening model:
Opening Speaker – Principal Chris Fogarty, Century High School | Rochester
The beautiful thing you have to realize about young people these days is that when people say “kids these days”..this is a phenomenal generation of young people. It really really is….There is this character with our young people that the adults, let’s face it, they need to fix everything that we’ve screwed up. And we either need to realize some of our habits and decisions we’ve made for them, that they’ve had to deal with. But they’re gonna have to fix them. Because we can’t sustain at this level.
Science Presenter – Dr. Alison Wallace, Minnesota State University Moorhead | Moorhead
When I heard about this event, how could I say no to being here? When youth are calling, we respond.
Climate Storyteller – Danny Friedman, Teacher at Northern Lights Community School | Warba
I’ve been thinking a lot about nature’s power to calm and give a much needed perspective on things lately. I can’t think of anything this world needs more of now than a deep breath and some time listening…I talk with young people frequently about climate change, and they are well aware of the danger of continuing on our current path. The message they are getting is that “if we don’t do something about climate change things are going to get very bad”. I don’t want youth to be motivated only by the fear of what is to come. I think we might have better luck if we are all motivated by the love of what is here now.
Sharing the climate science, local impacts and the stories of community members at convenings helped to build a sense of intergenerational learning and rich conversation on engagement in solutions.
Local solutions providers by community:
Grand Rapids (Warba)
Minnesota Department of Commerce
City of Moorhead Recycling
Clay County Recovery Services