What a year for YES! This year, 470 students from 32 different schools participated in the Youth Energy Summit (YES!) program. These students worked with 365 community members and 144 local businesses to achieve their energy-related goals. The energy action projects that these students worked on this year impacted an additional 12,763 students and 17,247 community members. This means that since its inception in 2007, YES! has involved more than 1,500 students who have worked with 1,390 local businesses, organizations and community members to impact an additional 83,630 community members and 39,848 students.
This past year nearly every YES! team worked to reduce waste in their schools and communities: 19 YES! teams worked on recycling projects, 10 YES! teams worked on composting projects, and 3 YES! teams worked on other waste-reduction measures. The impact of these measures was huge! This year alone YES! teams collected and recycled the following: 70,000 milk cartons, 2,335 plastic bags, nearly 2,000 pounds of holiday lights, 1,000 pairs of blue jeans, 700 pounds of tennis shoes, 100 t-shirts, 20 electronics, and 12 cell phones. They also collectively composted over 5,000 pounds of school lunch waste and one school alone is saving 129,000 Styrofoam trays from being thrown away each year. One school managed to cut their school lunch waste by 75% and another decreased their school recycling contamination rates from 70% to 5%. This year YES! teams also installed 17 hydration stations to decrease plastic bottle waste.
YES! students are also interested in local foods and school gardens. This year 4 YES! teams built greenhouses and 9 YES! teams worked on projects related to local foods and school gardens. This resulted in producing over 2,000 pounds of produce for school lunches. One team even grew 1,000 pepper plants to give out in their community.
YES! students love to share their knowledge with others: 20 teams educated other students or community members this year. This education included educating community members about what is compostable, teaching their community what to do with used motor oil, hosting a community discussion about local foods, teaching their fellow students how to decrease their paper towel waste, and educating over 950 community members about ways to increase water and energy savings at home shows in three communities. In addition, at least 5 YES! teams hosted “Black Out Days” at their schools where lights and other electronics are turned off in order to promote energy conservation awareness.
Congratulations to all of the YES! teams and their wonderful accomplishments this year!