This winter, Youth Environmental Activists of MN (YEA! MN) will host its first annual Winter Mingler on Wednesday, January 20 from 5:30-7:00 pm, at Gandhi Mahal Restaurant in South Minneapolis. The event will be an opportunity to hear from YEA! MN high school leaders about climate change and the barriers and solutions that resonate most with them. YEA! MN participants will also share their vision for a more holistic approach to climate change: one that moves beyond policy and science to include personal growth, leadership development and community engagement. The Mingler is an open gathering to connect and build community among YEA! MN students, alumni, supporters and parents.
YEA! MN launched in 2008 after a networking event at Edina High School that drew sixty students interested in addressing climate change. We had recently launched our youth program at Climate Generation, and were unclear where high school student stood on the issue of climate change. What we did know was that Millennials were a very different demographic from my own Gen X generation, that they cared about the world and their place in it, and that a lot of them wanted to take action. The meeting that day changed the course of our organization. Soon after, we launched Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA! MN), with a team of high school students at the helm, planning and coordinating the program with us every step of the way.
Eight years later, our program has expanded tremendously. We have worked directly with over twenty different high schools across the Twin Cities metro area, and a have built a network of thirty schools and 12 partner organizations engaging over 3,000 high school students each year in youth-led climate change solutions. Our program continues to be youth-led, with our youth steering committee, our two YEA! MN steering committee co-chairs, and our internship program engaging two youth leaders at Climate Generation’s office every year.
Each year, youth leaders continue to pick action projects that best meet their passions, interests, and the needs of their community. Our YEA! MN Coordinator provides direct mentorship to support these projects, as well as leadership development for our YEA! MN student leaders.
Where do these youth go after they graduate from high school and our program? We held a reunion in early January and got to find out! Some are traveling the word learning about sustainability and cultural survival in places like Bangladesh and Nepal, others are in school studying environmental sustainability, and some are continuing to organize for climate change solutions on their campuses or through paid work with organizations including MPIRG, ForestEthics, Fossil Fuel Student Divestment Network, and 350.org.
It is amazing to watch this program, which began as a little seed, grow into such a powerful and transformative space for young people – where youth are deepening their sense of their own power and connecting with others to create meaningful change in the world. We can only take some of the credit, as it is our young leaders who have given so much of their energy and youthful vision to shape what we are and what we have accomplished.
We are so proud of who they are and who they have become, and look forward to seeing what this year’s cohort of YEA! MN leaders can accomplish together. Come celebrate us and further connect with the YEA! MN community!
YEA! MN Winter Mingler
Wednesday, January 20
3009 27th Ave S
Free appetizers will be served!