The air was electric with the excitement of 240 students and coaches as the 9th annual Fall Summit, held at Saint John’s University on September 30th, opened with a warm welcome by Tom Kroll, Director of Saint John’s Outdoor University. Kristen Poppleton from Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy gave the keynote address illuminating the difference between weather patterns and climate change. Poppleton encouraged students to work together to mitigate the effects of climate change through their energy action projects.
For about 45 minutes, the YES! teams got a chance to stretch their legs and minds while participating in a variety of team building activities. Students were divided into small groups and each group had an experienced facilitator from the Peer Resource Program at CSB/SJU leading them through fun yet challenging outdoor activities. Hot lava, magic carpets, and rubber chickens were just some of the items the groups used during the challenges! The 23 YES! coaches in attendance gathered while the students were engaged in initiative games to shared best practices for fundraising, recruitment of new students and how to manage multi-year projects while giving new students the opportunity to start new projects of interest to them. Resources from YES! were also shared to kick off the new 2015-16 season.
Next teams rotated through three breakout sessions: Project Planning and Sharing, Meet the Experts, and Behavior Change.
The Project Planning and Sharing session started with a representative from each team standing up and sharing their past projects and highlights with the rest of the group. The students then where able to go around the room and view posters of what other YES! teams had done. It was a great networking opportunity for the teams as they were able to talk to YES! team members from other schools about different projects. In addition to hearing what other teams had accomplished each team was able to sit down and do project planning for the upcoming year.
The Meet the Experts session was jam-packed with helpful knowledge for teams. Experts included Doug Lien from Tri-County Solid Waste Management, Matt Domski from Minnesota Technical Assistance Program, and Jeff Haase from Great River Energy (along with eight representatives from local energy cooperatives). Lien talked about how he could assist teams working on organics recycling, and Domski discussed ways to reduce food waste in the cafeteria. Haase, along with the eight representatives, met with teams about ways to work with utilities to accomplish shared goals in conserving energy. All teams in attendance were given the opportunity to meet with and ask questions of the expert(s) of their choice.
In the Behavior Change and Metrics session at the YES! Fall Summit, Alexis Troschinetz from the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) discussed the importance of choosing actions with measurable outcomes. She discussed the challenges and different ways of working towards changing long ingrained behaviors of different audiences. The YES! students had opportunities to group up and make a plan for changing behaviors in different settings such as helping elderly people switch to energy efficient lighting, and helping farmers adopt tractor block heater timers. The students had a valuable lesson in working as a group to solve a problem, and had an opportunity to brainstorm about possible energy savings actions.
Fun was had by all and the teams left energized and ready to take action in their schools and communities! Experts also commented that they had enjoyed interacting with teams and look forward to seeing their results throughout the day. Thanks to all for a great event!