Mars was involved with the YES! Program at Lac qui Parle Valley High School his sophomore, junior, and senior years. The main projects Mars worked on were composting food waste from the school’s lunches, getting filtration systems on the water fountains at the school, and installing solar-powered lights on the bike trail in Appleton.
Mars notes, “I was exposed to a lot of important life skills and ideas while on the YES! Team. I learned that people are motivated by many reasons for making “green” choices, so we used different strategies to connect with them and persuade them to act in more pro-environmental ways.” While working on YES! projects, Mars also had the opportunity to go around to businesses to get them involved in projects that would benefit the communities they were a part of. Mars states, “probably the most valuable skill I gained was learning to present information to policy makers (for example, my school board), where we shared our ideas and worked with them to implement the changes we were campaigning for.”
Mars had a couple of favorite aspects of participating in YES! Mars recalls, “I really liked learning about new things, like vermicomposting (composting with worms!), and I also really enjoyed spending time with my friends. We accomplished a lot and we had so much fun while doing it!”
After being involved in YES! for three years, Mars knew that he wanted his career to “have something to do with helping the planet, which is what I am currently going to school for. I also try to be as environmentally-minded in my day-to-day life as I can. I strive to be as low-waste as possible and just consume less in general, and I switched to a vegan diet to lower by carbon footprint.” This fall, Mars will be starting his senior year at the University of Minnesota-Morris where he is majoring in environmental studies.
Mars wanted to be sure to let you know, “making changes in your personal life that help the Earth is important, but it’s more important to remember to be kind to yourself and just try your best. While all the little things we do add up, we also have to remember to look at the big picture. We need broad, system-level changes if we are going to stop climate change and solve all our other problems, environmental or otherwise. That is done through activism and political engagement that furthers policies that create comprehensive, positive outcomes – for the Earth and each other.”
Thank you so much for sharing, Mars! We are excited to see what Mars continues to accomplish after participating in YES! We love hearing from our alumni. If you’d like to be featured as a YES! alumnus, please contact us and let us know.
Major funding for the YES! program was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).