The Sleepy Eye YES! Team—students from both Sleepy Eye High School and St. Mary’s High School—recently attended the Fall Summit.

The 11th Annual Fall Summit, held at St. John’s University on Oct. 11, engaged over 200 students and coaches from 14 Youth Energy Summit (YES!) teams from central and southern Minnesota. The Sleepy Eye YES! Team—students from both Sleepy Eye High School and St. Mary’s High School, along with their advisors, Deb Reinarts and Mary Beth Botz, attended the summit.

Students participated in sessions such as—Get Current!; The Climate is Changing, Are you?; You Are My Sunshine; Water, Water, Everywhere, We Really Need to Care; Waste Not; and Pushing Your Limits—that connected them with peers, engaged them in tools for success, and demonstrated project ideas, as they head into the 2017-18 YES! season.

The theme for this year’s Fall Summit was “Say YES! to Living Green.” YES! was fortunate to have multiple speakers on careers—presenting on how they became successful in their environmental field. Two of the big highlights at the summit this year were the climbing wall and a 34-foot Voyageur canoe from Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. YES! works hard to bring opportunities like these to its events to further engage students in hands-on learning.

YES! was also fortunate to have regional experts to assist with sessions. The Get Current! session, led by Alexis Troschinetz from Clean Energy Resource Teams, was focused on energy conservation and devices that can assist with that effort. The Climate is Changing, Are You? session, led by Jothsna Harris and Kira Liu from Climate Generation, focused on teaching students what it takes to put on a community event—demonstrated by Climate Generations’ Climate Convening model. The Water, Water, Everywhere, We Really Need to Care session, led by Jon Morales from the Middle Fork Crow Watershed District and Charlene Brooks from the Kandiyohi County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force, had students next to the lake learning about shoreline health and reasons for unhealthy bodies of water. They also explored best management practices completed at St. John’s and around the region. The Waste Not session, led by Doug Lien from Tri County Solid Waste, focused on how much waste the average lunchroom produces and ways to reduce lunchroom waste through better signage, composting and recycling. In the You Are My Sunshine session, led by Eric Pasi from IPS Solar, students learned how schools are getting involved in solar energy, and explored Minnesota’s opportunities through the power of the sun.

YES! empowers youth to partner with their community to create economic and environmental vitality through hands-on learning and team-based projects related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste reduction, recycling, composting, local foods, and more. The YES! Program is a collaboration between Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, Laurentian Environmental Center, Lakes Country Service Cooperative, and Ney Nature Center. Major funding for the 2017-2018 season is provided by the McKnight Foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation, and the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, a constitutionally-established permanent fund for protecting and enhancing Minnesota's environment and natural resources, as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). For more information, visit www.youthenergysummit.org