A core program of the Will Steger Foundation, YEA!MN (Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota) supports a network of high school environmental clubs working together across the Minneapolis St. Paul area to empower student leadership around environmental justice and climate change solutions, facilitate shared skills and strategies, and take coordinated action at home, at school, and in the wider community. We meet every other week for a few hours to plan events, popcorn ideas, and learn about how to be effective leaders working towards change.
YEA!MN is based entirely around the idea of youth leadership development. High school students are often marginalized and not taken seriously at school by people in positions of authority. By granting youth the privileges and responsibilities of making key decisions, learning through mistakes, and taking initiative on issues they are passionate about, students are able to challenge themselves in a safe, supportive, learning environment. This type of opportunity provides confidence, experience, and motivation to continue to find solutions after high school.
Due to the huge range of issues that are deeply tied to environmental activism, there is a place for anyone and everyone within this organization. We spend a large amount of time discussing the problems and successes of the broader environmental movement and how they affect our work at an individual level as young change-makers. From racial justice, to safe schools, to public health, to LGBTQ rights, we have been able to incorporate important intersectionalities into our environmental work. Whether it’s service work, community organizing, or working through the political process, the range of issues and events we participate in allow us to test the waters of different forms of creating social change.
From planning youth environmental lobby days at the Capitol, to hosting youth rallies, to organizing trash pick-ups, to traveling with 30+ Minnesotan high schoolers to an environmental conference in Pittsburgh, the opportunities that YEA!MN provides are truly life changing to the students who emerge from high school as experienced, inspired, educated, strong leaders for social and environmental change.
Follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/yeamn
YEA!MN co-chairs 2013-2014:
Shira Breen – Senior at Minneapolis South High School (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bryn Shank – Senior at St. Paul Central High School (email@example.com)
Natalie Cook – YEA!MN Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)