Submitted By: Erin Nordquist, Central MN YES! Coordinator
On April 15, 2017, the Central region Youth Energy Summit (YES!) teams presented their final project reports, complete with PowerPoint presentations, to a panel of four judges. The panel of judges included: Adam Hjelm – Education Coordinator, Sauk River Watershed District; Ashley Walker – Environmental Education Fellow, St. John’s Outdoor University; Tina Miller – Project Coordinator, Blattner Energy; and Tom McDougall – Former President (Retired), Weidt Group.
The Melrose Middle School YES! team got the Goal Setting, Teamwork, and Community Leadership Award this year. The team, along with their coach, Science teacher Kim Olson, completed several projects over the course of the year and put in a lot of work. They built bat houses and installed them in several locations in their area, they expanded the recycling program at their school, and they also worked on the pollinator garden that they installed last year. The team also participated in multiple field trips and learning opportunities that helped them reach their project goals. It was clear to the judges that the team worked together to complete multiple projects so that all members of the group had a project that they were interested in. In order to complete these projects, the team worked with several community organizations.
The Sartell Middle School YES! team got the Project Impact and WOW! Factor Award. The Sartell YES! team is led by Science teacher Gina Anderson. Throughout the school year, the YES! students developed curricula to educate their peers about water quality issues. The developed lesson plans were presented by the YES! students or by various teachers during several advisory periods near the end of the year. The judges got to see the visuals that went with each lesson and the students explained some of their talking points. Each lesson was an in-depth look at a different issue relating to water quality and the judges thought that they were done extremely well. They also felt that this project was the most impactful because the YES! students were learning valuable skills for their future and the rest of the student body was being taught such important information about water resources.
The North Jr High YES! team received the All Star Award. The team and their coach, Math teacher Maggie Lukens, put in an incredible amount of work to install a 1.3 acre pollinator prairie on the North Jr High school grounds. Included within the pollinator prairie, is an outdoor classroom with benches made by the school’s shop class. The judges were impressed that such a large project was put into place by middle school aged students and that there was significant forethought about how the outdoor classroom could benefit future students. The team received funding through Pheasants Forever, The McKnight Foundation, The Lions Club, and several other community organizations to accomplish this huge project.
Congratulations to all of the Central region award winners! There were so many wonderful projects this year, all the teams and their coaches deserve a big round of applause!