By Sam Horner
On September 30, 2019, Laurentian Environmental Center hosted the 6th Annual YES! Fall Summit. The Fall Summit is the premiere kick-off event for the YES! calendar year. Each year, all the teams in the northeast region of Minnesota gather to listen to presentations from experts in the environmental field and to brainstorm different ideas for the coming school year. This year was no different and the Fall Summit was a great event for all who attended.
Four teams from our region attended the event including Northern Lights Community School, Harbor City International School, Carlton High School and Virginia High School. There were 35 students with each team having their coach/teacher along as well. To begin the day each team completed a worksheet with questions that led them to think about what projects they could undertake, how to involve their peers, and how to engage their local community to complete their projects. During this time, each team had the opportunity to work with Dissecting Microscopes and they saw how they would be using them with our guest speaker.
Our guest speaker for the event was Marte Kittson, from Minnesota Sea Grant in Duluth. Marte is the Sea Grant’s Environmental Literacy Extension Educator. Marte specializes in Aquatic Invasive Species and Watershed Education. She gave the students a quick rundown on the equipment that they would be using. After talking about the equipment and how it all worked, the coaches, students and Laurentian Environmental staff went down to Lake Arrowhead with Marte to see what we could collect. After some time down at the lake, the students managed to collect over 20 different species of plants and organisms. They used the Dissecting Microscopes and educational books to identify what they had found. When we were done identifying everything we had collected, Marte gave her parting words. She explained why Aquatic Invasive Species are a problem in Minnesota and how we can prevent their spreading. Marte inspired the students to think about career options in her field and encouraged them to take this experience and use it to find a job in an environmental field after graduation.
The students this year had an event that they will not soon forget. Hopefully, what they learned at the Fall Summit will translate into results for their projects this year. Each school will be working on projects that will make our earth a little bit better place. If this is something your school is interested in, please contact me or anyone of my colleagues. We hope you will get your school participating in YES! and doing your part to make our Earth a more hospitable place.