Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA! MN)

Category: 
Community Based

A program of Climate Generation, YEA! MN connects Twin Cities youth to facilitate shared skills and strategies and take coordinated action towards environmental sustainability. YEA! MN is a youth-driven network of high school environmental clubs, including 20+ high schools from a cross-section of urban and suburban school districts. YEA! MN has been a vehicle for behavior change since it’s inception with a focus on student leadership, experiential learning, and peer mentorship.

Spotlight On Emerging Leaders: Siiri Bigalke

Goals: 

A program of Climate Generation, Youth Environmental Activists Minnesota (YEA! MN) connects high school students across the Twin Cities Metro to empower student leadership on climate change solutions, facilitate shared skills and strategies, and support coordinated youth action on environmental sustainability.

“Many of the most amazing young people I’ve met during high school have been through YEA! MN. It is so inspiring to see a group of teenagers truly making an impact and changing our world for the better. YEA! MN has opened the doors to so many unforgettable experiences, from marching with 400,000 other climate activists at the People’s Climate March in New York City to leading a meeting with Governor Dayton about renewable energy in Minnesota.” Kumar Flower Kay, DeLaSalle High School ’15, 17 years old

High Level Impact: 

Our program directly mentors 10 high school leaders and their environmental clubs across the Twin Cities metro areas on a regular basis with the goal of building strong relationships with student leaders, providing guidance for action project planning and implementation, and deepening mentorship further by engaging club leaders in the YEA! MN youth steering committee. Made up of 10-15 student leaders from across the Twin Cities Metro, the steering committee is a place where students can learn from one another, develop their own leadership skills, become literate in the basic of climate change science and carbon reducing behaviors/actions, and return to campus better equipped to build a successful and sustainable team working to reduce the carbon footprint of their school and wider community.

YEA! MN is unique in that it is authentically youth driven. From our youth steering committee, to the student earth clubs and action projects, youth are at the helm pursing and exploring the issues that matter to them, and designing projects and campaigns that are relevant to their peers. We are proud of their work, and the ways in which this student-centered approach also result in student empowerment and personal transformation.

Over the YEA! MN program year we weave a three pronged learning approach: 1.) climate literacy 2.) leadership development 3.) environmental justice. These three workshop progressions, combined with our program’s experiential education approach, result in highly informed student projects at the intersection of an individual's passions and gifts, and the needs of the specific community the student is operating in. Over the 2014-15 program year, YEA! MN students successfully diverted over 100,000 plastic water bottles from the landfill and trash incinerators. YEA! MN students successfully engaged over 1,000 peers in youth-led action projects focused on waste reduction, recycling, and energy conservation. Over 100 high schools students participated in our Youth Summit with Minnesota Governor Dayton at the State Capitol in support of clean energy legislation.

Point of Contact: 

Abby Fenton, abby@climategen.org, Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy