By YES! Coordinator Jim DeVries
On a beautiful fall day, 83 students and 21 coaches assembled at the Laurentian Environmental Center in Britt MN for the 3rd annual Northeast MN Fall Summit. Teams representing Carlton High School, Cherry High School, Northern Lights Community School, Virginia High School and Wrenshall High School were in attendance.
The day started off with a quick introduction to the YES! program for new students. The students then dove into a creative problem solving session. This hands-on session proved to be a great motivation to get everyone talking about how to solve energy issues in their school.
The keynote speakers from Sea Change presented about their four years of sailing on Lake Superior and how they have personally witnessed impacts of global climate change. They shared stories of swimming out in the middle of Lake Superior when the water temperature was 82 degrees on the surface. Previously water temps would have been considered high when it was in the low 60’s. They have also witnessed several “100 year storms”, little-to-no winter ice coverage, and a rapid change in water quality due to increased algal blooms.
As the Sea Change crew sailed along the North Shore, they stopped in villages along the lake and shared their observations and concerns with these communities while gathering stories from the people along the way. Climate change is not a hopeless catastrophe, but the impacts can be lessened by our actions. Sea Change ended its talk with practical advice on what we can do in our own lives. Easy suggestions like walk instead of drive, turn down the heat by 2 degrees, shut lights off when not needed and don’t let your car idle when you are parked somewhere. Simple tasks, but when done by thousands of people can make a big impact on the carbon released into the atmosphere every year.
Following the presentation lunch was served and the students had the chance to visit with the presenters to find out more information about their trip and the impacts of climate change. After lunch three returning teams shared about the projects they had worked on over the last few years to get everyone in the mind set for planning this year’s efforts. Teams had a half hour to discuss their future plans and report back to the larger group what they hoped to work on this year.
The day went by quickly, but it was a positive start to the 2016-17 school year and the YES! program. Thank you to everyone to helped to make this another successful kick off!