Written by Taylor Templer, West Central Coordinator
When I was a little girl, I was taught to fall in love with as many things as possible and to give those things my fullest attention and deepest connection. My family instilled in me to have compassion for all things. Compassion for family, compassion for others, compassion for the environment. I grew up outside, whether it was catching snakes and frogs with my brother, riding horse with my mother, fishing with my father, or cutting down that pesky invasive, buckthorn, with my grandmother, those experiences as a child helped mold my love for the outdoors. I learned and appreciated being outside and enjoyed all the things the natural world had to offer.
Now, as a parent I want my son to appreciate those same things. I want him to grow up valuing, exploring, and caring for the environment, just as I do. I want him to be able to experience the same things I have fallen in love with here in Minnesota; the changing of seasons, loons calling, crisp fall days, catching walleyes, and a gentle snowfall. All of these things will be impacted by our changing climate and I can’t imagine my home without these things. To think that my grandchildren or my great grandchildren might not be able to enjoy the things that make our state special really worries me.
The future I see possible is a world where experiences and connections matter more than money and material things. Where we value the earth and only take what we need from it in a sustainable way. Where we take care of our precious natural resources; our soil, water, plants, and animals. Where we are educated on the value that nature provides for our lives. I imagine close-knit communities who are connected and resilient, caring for the environment, being stewards of the land, as we once were.
YES! helps youth find solutions to environmental challenges in their schools and communities that will create change and foster good environmental stewardship. This program is important to me because I want to give youth the opportunity to do something meaningful for the environment and their communities. I have taught my son that the environment comes first, to explore it, to take care of it, and use it wisely. I want to help instill these values in other young people and for them to have the opportunity to see the beauty of our natural world, to take care of it.
Major funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).