The 10th Annual Fall Summit, held at Saint John’s University on October 12th, engaged nearly 200 students and coaches from 16 YES! teams from central and southern Minnesota. The day started out with an activity, “massively multi-player thumb-wrestling,” where “grand masters” and “legendary grand masters” were born. Teams were then welcomed by Father Lew Grobe, a monk at St. Johns Abbey, who shared his ideas on the importance of creating a stable environment. Following that, Keynote speaker Dr. Kate Brauman, Lead Scientist for the Global Water Initiative at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, talked about “Why Global Water Matters” and gave students insights into how their actions impact water consumption and capacity. A video message from Senator Al Franken followed that included not only inspiration about protecting our resources in Minnesota but also some great humor.
After the opening, students moved into breakout sessions. This year, there were two different tracks for teams, one for those teams that are new or have mostly new students involved in the program, and one for veteran teams. Both tracks combined mid-day for a highly active Project Sharing session.
In the Measuring Your Project’s Success session for returning teams, students investigated local water quality data compiled by the Middle Fork Crow Watershed District and Sauk River Watershed District. After investigating the data, they used their creativity to make posters of their lake as a unique way to tell their peers about the status of the lake they examined. Afterwards, Jon Morales from the Middle Fork Crow Watershed District demonstrated how they use various equipment to monitor lakes and streams. Students also learned about ways they can get involved in monitoring lakes and streams through Citizen Science. By the end of the session, all students had a better appreciation for tracking and analyzing data, which they will carry forward as they work to collect data for their own projects this year.
In the FUNdraising 101 session, returning YES! teams were encouraged to find projects this year that are good for the Planet, good for People and also generate a Profit. Students learned about the CERTs Saving Watts & Drops program, WorldWear Project, and Climb for a Cause as well as a number of other great ideas shared by YES! teams. The literal high point of this fast-paced session was the opportunity to climb the PWELC portable climbing wall, which can be used to help fund projects in schools and communities. Thanks to Joel Haskard of CERTs and Steve Friedlein and Cameron Kalkbrenner from PWELC for sharing their energy and expertise in this session.
At the Project Sharing session, new and returning teams were able to make connections with students from other schools through fun activities. New teams also “met the experts” when returning teams shared some of their past successes. Meanwhile, coaches enjoyed meeting with other coaches and discussing YES! in more detail.
In the Measuring Your Project’s Success/Big Canoe session for new teams, students explored a fun and engaging way to track data. The Voyageurs were a hardworking and competitive group of guys who engaged in competition to “prove” they were the best. This session introduced students to the tracking tools that will help teams “prove” their success in their community. Students also learned that tracking data can be fun by taking a paddle in a 34-foot Voyageur canoe to drop a secchi disk and take some water quality readings.
In the Introduction to YES! for New Teams session, students spent time together learning about what it means to be a part of YES! Students heard from University of MN 4-H Extension educators Mark Haugen and Cassidy Martin, worked on creating S.M.A.R.T. goals for their projects, and learned how to identify allies in their community by using power mapping/mind mapping, a skill that will be useful in finding community members able to assist them in accomplishing projects. Overall, the session provided new members great information on YES! as well as a strong foundation for planning their projects for the year.
By the end of the day, all students left with their minds full of project ideas and excitement, ready to take on the challenge of the new season of YES!