Top team in southern region — $500 prize goes for more great projects!

In January, the YES! Program announced the 2017-18 winners of McKnight Foundation Project Funding. Funding was awarded to teams whose projects engage and empower youth to make an impact in their school and/or community on climate change through hands-on projects. Sleepy Eye YES! Team, coached by Deb Reinarts and Mary Beth Botz, entered their power point presentation and final report on their Pollinator Garden and LED Lighting projects and were awarded a $500 prize to assist them in continuing their action projects in Sleepy Eye.

Deb Reinarts said one fun result of being the first place team in the region was a trip to a Twins game on May 20—a group of eight made the trip. “We received a state runner up plaque on the field prior to the beginning of the game, and according to southern regiondirector, Michelle Isaakson, we were very close in getting the overall state trophy,” said Reinarts. “That was pretty neat—we were on the big screen for all the Twins fans to see!” A facility manager spoke to the The YES! Teams in attendance about Target Field being a LEED certified facility and how that was accomplished.

YES!, formerly known as Youth Energy Summit, recently changed its name to Youth Eco Solutions—very fitting for the projects the Sleepy Eye team likes to do. Reinarts said the judges were very impressed by the variety of projects they do and the number of Sleepy Eye Public and St. Mary’s students involved in the projects. “They also were excited about our involvement in the community and having projects that not only impact locally, but globally,” she said. “We are noticed for our overall diversity of projects.”

Reinarts said an examples is their involvement in getting native prairie plants in a garden setting, which they planted at Ross Park Apartments. The team is also working with DNR ecologist Megan Benage to have three sites at the golf course receive native grasses and forbs to attract bees for pollination and butterflies.

At Ross Park, 22 species of plants were placed and about 10 species of native prairie grasses were seeded. Several species of grasses and forbs were put in through a seed mix and the golf course. The team will continue with mantainance of these two areas and add more aesthetic value to the Ross Park area in the future.