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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Central > Say YES! Empower Youth for Sustainability in Central MN

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Say YES! Empower Youth for Sustainability in Central MN


Mobilize entire communities through youth-led sustainability action projects initiated by teams of 8 to 20 youth in grades 7-12. Build new teams and strengthen existing teams with resources and expertise from the University of Minnesota. Complete projects in up to 11 communities during 2014 and 2015.

With ever increasing demands on our limited energy resources, communities in greater Minnesota face the challenge of locating bright and talented individuals to provide alternative energy solutions and advance new ideas for conservation and waste reduction. YES! is a unique experiential learning program where students take on action projects that not only lead to dramatic demonstrations of renewable energy technology and conservation practices, but also build skills that will directly impact their future like creativity, innovation, problem-solving, communication, teamwork and project management.



  1. Students implement over 45 energy action projects and measure results
  2. Over 110 students in the CRSDP region and 2,400 statewide attend workshops, tour education sites tailored to projects, and connect to teams of U of M resource experts
  3. Students complete final report, PowerPoint and present to a panel of judges
  4. Winners announced and awards presented at local community events
  5. Recruit and retain up to 15 YES! teams in Central MN (70 statewide)
  6. Over 110 students in the CRSDP region and 2,400 statewide participate in Fall Summits
  7. Identify energy action projects and start implementation
  8. Final report completed for CRSDP


  1. Recruit and retain up to 5 teams in Central MN each year in 2014 and 2015
  2. Connect teams with regional experts and allies who share mutual goals of sustainability, environmental stewardship and economic vitality
  3. Engage and empower youth to take positive action in their communities; develop leadership, community-building and problem-solving skills; increase awareness of career, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities; increase knowledge about energy issues and opportunities; and create sustainable communities.



Leveraged resources

AgStar Financial - $2,500; Environmental and Natural Resource Trust Fund - $175,000; Initiative Foundation , Little Falls - $5,000; Local Community Funding - $21,000; McKnight Foundation - $43,000; Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center - $32,820; Registration Fees - $12,000; Southwest Initiative Foundation - $58,865; Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership - $20,000; Other Initiative Foundations - $11,000; Various Businesses and Organizations - $14,540

Last updated 05-27-2015
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