Over 40 students from 3 YES! teams met last week for the Renewable Energy Winter Workshop held at St. John’s University. The day started with a warm welcome from Alex Chocholousek from the Office of Sustainability at the College of St. Benedict. Next Dan Backes from Blattner Energy gave an excellent explanation of how wind turbines are produced and installed and expressed the importance of transmission lines. Dan got the students to think about real-world applications of wind by explaining costs and how placement and height of the turbine play into its efficiency.
Joel Haskard from Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) presented to students about Community Solar Gardens. Joel encouraged teams to be the “change they want to see in their world” by starting a Solar Garden in their community, one solar panel at a time. He explained that MN has the same solar capacity as Texas. Sarah Gaines from St. John’s Outdoor University led a tour of the St. John’s Solar Array Farm – which wowed students with its size and contributions to producing energy for the campus. Sarah told the students the Solar Farm produces about 3% of the energy needs of the campus in the winter and 20% in the summer.
A special part of the day included meeting in small groups with the SJU/CSB Sustainability Alliance Club. Club members Stephanie, Maggie (YES! alumna from Albany), C.J. and Meghan took YES! students through the process of visioning, mapping, strategy and tactics to get their projects from ideas to results! As one student commented “I’m glad we got to figure out how to carry out our plans” and another commented “the college students were cool.”
Finally YES! Coordinator Jonathan Morales orchestrated the fun and hands-on activity of building a solar oven out of pizza boxes. The students enjoyed ending the day with a hands-on activity that they could later use to harness the sun to make s’mores!
All in all it was a great day! The students learned a lot, both from each other and from the presenters and tours. They also had a ton of fun and enjoyed being on an eco-friendly college campus.