On November 19 four brand new YES! teams assembled at Laurentian Environmental Center for the first ever NE MN YES! Fall Summit. As often happens in the northern climates, the day was snowy and the roads were icy, but teams traveled over 80 miles in these winter conditions to participate.
38 students and 5 coaches participated in a day of learning, brainstorming, and networking. The day started off with an ice breaker during which students found out interesting facts about the other teams and their individual members. This was followed by a chance for teams to challenge their creativity and engineering skills by creating solar ovens to cook marshmallows, creating a seed dispersal device that would float in the wind or designing a vehicle that is powered solely by air. Many imaginative designs emerged.
Late morning we had three experts come to talk about their respective areas of interest. Bill Mittlefehldt of Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) started off with a discussion on energy consumption and how teams could work to reduce their impact on their communities. Next was Allison Sawyer from St. Louis County Environmental Services who shared how teams could help to reduce the waste streams in their lunchrooms and classrooms. The third speaker was Janna Goerdt – owner of Fat Chicken Farm who brought the local foods discussion to a practical level with three teams bringing home a flat of lettuce and other salad greens to start their winter gardens. These three experts also stayed through lunch to serve as a resource as teams began the discussion of their energy action projects for the year.
It was good to hear the enthusiasm for teams’ new project ideas. Teams were discussing everything from milk carton recycling and composting food waste in their cafeteria to building a winter green house for growing winter greens and even ramping up the production at their school garden to sell at farmers markets to help fund future projects.