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eNewsletter 2011
eNewsletter 2011

eNewsletter 2011 (12)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011 09:23

Celebrating another great year!

Written by Will Steger Foundation

Letter from the Executive Director

2010-2011 Annual ReportWith the end of 2011 approaching, it’s a natural time to express our gratitude, to reflect on this past year’s achievements, and lay the groundwork for the year ahead. Our 2010-2011 Annual Report is complete, and with eight-more pages than last year, thanks to more supporters and an incredible list of accomplishments, we want to acknowledge our friends that made this all possible.

I want to thank our dedicated Board of Directors and incredible staff, who not only go above and beyond what is asked of them with their time, but also contribute financially. I am proud to share that we have 100% financial participation from our entire team. We are all passionate about the issue we work on and our approach. We are a unique organization that combines education, youth leadership and advocacy to advance solutions to climate change.

Thanks to your support and interest in our work, you have also made a tremendous impact on hundreds of educators, youth leaders and defended policies that protect our health, environment and advance the clean energy economy.

We have big plans for 2012, such as revamping our climate education resources, increasing our outreach in Minnesota and across the Midwest, and so much more. We’ll need you again to make this a reality. Right now, however we just want to say thank you.


Nicole Rom, Executive Director

Friday, 11 November 2011 09:47

Youth Take Action for the Climate

Written by eNewsletter

Letter from the Executive Director

image_edThe Will Steger Foundation blog has a number of great articles by our youth leaders this month. From Midwest Powershift in Cleveland, Ohio to youth led meetings with legislative staff, to preparing to participate in the upcoming United Nations climate conference in Durban, South Africa, a generation is getting to work building their future.

Youth have also been submitting observations to our online classroom for Minnesota’s Changing Climate: "I learned that humans have a huge impact on how fast the climate changes and that everything we do affects the changing climate. I also learned that we can change the world.” "I learned that every living thing has an impact on how the world changes." Check them out in our exciting online classroom!

The Changing Arctic event was a great success last month. Over 80 people joined the Will Steger Foundation and partners for a thought-provoking conversation. The half-day event explored what a changing arctic, mainly an ice-free arctic, means for economics, the environment, diplomacy and security.

We are gearing up for Give to the Max Day this Wednesday November 16th and hope you will join us by supporting our work.

Finally, on December 7 & 8 Will Steger will be talking about his eyewitness experience with climate change and the connection between climate, clean air and human health at two events in Grand Rapids and Princeton, MN. We hope to see you there!


Nicole Rom, Executive Director

Tuesday, 18 October 2011 09:53

A Warming Arctic, Youth Speak Up and more

Written by eNewsletter

Letter from the Executive Director

Changing ArcticThis month we are turning our attention to the Arctic, which seems fitting given the recent scientific reports that are being released about the summer sea ice conditions and the important discussions that are unfolding regarding mineral rights, infrastructure, political power of indigenous peoples, and waterway access. It should be no surprise that extreme climate conditions are becoming the norm in the Arctic and that with these changes bring additional challenges for Arctic nations, including the United States. Minnesotans are already contributing to U.S., Canadian and broader international efforts to address the challenges and opportunities of the changing Arctic. To build further understanding of these critical issues, the Will Steger Foundation and the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis are pleased to partner with the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Institute on the Environment to bring a first-of-its-kind discussion of The Changing Arctic: International Cooperation and Development to the Twin Cities, on October 27. Along with experts from Minnesota, Canada and elsewhere, we will examine diplomacy and international cooperation, economic and social development, as well as education, exploration and science in the Arctic from 1-6 pm at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School.

Our Clean Air Act Defense work continues, despite the Obama administration’s delay to set standards to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and continued Congressional attacks. We are organizing a series of meetings for youth climate leaders and health professionals with staff from Senator Franken and Klobuchar’s offices regarding the importance of a strong Clean Air Act this month. Youth are sending the message that they will make up 22% of eligible voters in the 2012 elections in Minnesota and as young people, they want the Clean Air Act to be protected for their future.


Nicole Rom, Executive Director

Letter from the Executive Director

Nicole Rom, Executive DirectorThank you for supporting our August fundraising campaign – we raised over $20,000 and ended our fiscal year in a strong financial position!

We are gearing up for a very busy fall and want to make sure you know about a number of great events we have coming up locally and nationally:

Our Clean Air Act Defense work will continue this fall. We organized a letter on behalf of attorneys in Minnesota asking Senator Klobuchar to support a strong Clean Air Act, which could be part of Congress’ efforts to weaken it in the Senate this fall.

The Will Steger Foundation has launched an exciting initiative that brings climate change to the local level, here in Minnesota! Minnesota’s Changing Climate (MCC) includes a new curriculum for grades 3-12, an online classroom, educator professional development, outdoor exploration tools, and ongoing support.

Finally, in case you missed our August events, or if you want to experience them again, you can now watch videos from our Summer Institute for Climate Change Education and public forum, Sense of Place in a Changing Climate.

We hope to see you this fall!


Nicole Rom, Executive Director

Wednesday, 17 August 2011 15:07

Summer Success!

Written by Will Steger Foundation

Letter from the Executive Director

image_edWe are riding the remaining energy from a multitude of incredible events last week, which included a Clean Air and Human Health Discussion in Edina; two-day Summer Institute for Climate Change Education; and our public forum, Sense of Place in a Changing Climate.

Over 40 Edina residents joined Will Steger and others for a discussion of the importance of the Clean Air Act and human health and learned how they can help ensure we maintain such strong legislation, which will continue to be under attack when Congress returns in September.

Our Summer Institute was a huge success! Videos, testimonials and other details will be available after the Labor Day holiday on our website. We were also excited to see almost 200 people turn out for our forum that was moderated by MPR’s Midmorning host, Kerri Miller. Don Shelby, J. Drake Hamilton and Will Steger discussed their concerns about the lack of political will to solve our climate crisis and a changing political climate. They spoke to what is special to them about Minnesota and the concerns they have for wildlife, human health, our economy and way of life from the impacts of climate change.

We are nearing the end of our fiscal year and are halfway to our goal to raise $30,000 by August 31, 2011. With some of our largest activities this month, your contribution means even more right to us right now! Thank you for your continued support.


Nicole Rom, Executive Director

Thursday, 14 July 2011 09:24

Summer Heats Up!

Written by eNewsletter

Letter from the Executive Director

As the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Dayton continue negotiating a state budget compromise, Minnesota’s nonprofits face financial difficulties from the resulting shutdown. Like many across the state, the government shutdown affects us too. Our Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund project, which supports our Education Program and upcoming Summer Institute, is a major program of the Will Steger Foundation. This means some of our grant funds will be delayed several months, but we believe it is important to not turn a single educator away, especially when our Summer Institute has the highest number of educators enrolled, from communities across Minnesota. Your contribution means even more right to us right now!

For some brighter news, last week the EPA announced the finalized Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which protects over 240 million Americans from power plant air pollution by reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that cross state lines and worsen air quality in downwind states.  The rule requires pollution reductions from power plants in 28 states. See more info here and look for a reaction from Will Steger published in the Duluth News Tribune later this week.

A new survey by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication suggests the urgency of climate change can be communicated if the right people engage local constituencies and explain how human activities are impacting local communities. Our educational project, Minnesota’s Changing Climate, which will launch at our Summer Institute next month, meets this need by taking a local approach to understanding the impacts and solutions to climate change in Minnesota.

Sense of Place in a Changing ClimateIn addition to our Summer Institute next month, we are also hosting a free public forum with some of Minnesota’s noteworthy leaders! Join Us!

August 11th: Panel Discussion with Don Shelby, J. Drake Hamilton, and Will Steger, moderated by MPR’s Kerri Miller. The forum, Sense of Place in a Changing Climate takes place at 7:30 pm,  August 11 at the Town and Country Club in St. Paul. The purpose of the free public event is to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change on our state’s natural resources and what we as citizens can do through the personal stories and “testimony” of prominent Minnesotans. RSVP now!

Hope to see you there and thank you for your continued support!


Nicole Rom, Executive Director

Letter from the Executive Director

Libby Fones
Libby Fones, Education Intern

Christy Newell
Christy Newell, Policy Intern

As many of you begin your summer vacation, the Will Steger Foundation is preparing for a summer of learning opportunities. Be sure to mark your calendar for some great events!

June marks the first day of summer and we are definitely feeling the effects of a change in season with the onslaught of extreme weather in Minnesota and across the country. You’ve probably noticed a lot of media coverage on this topic and yet there is confusion around the difference between weather and climate. Kristen has written a great blog about the topic.

Our office is full this summer with two new undergraduate interns – Libby Fones who is supporting our Education Program and Summer Institute and Christy Newell who is collaborating with our Youth and Policy Programs to continue our work to defend the Clean Air Act from congressional attack.

We were proud to see that Governor Dayton vetoed a bill in late May that would have allowed more coal pollution in Minnesota, continuing our state’s clean energy path. You can read more about his action and the bill here. As part of our policy efforts, we are going to be focusing on the health implications of dirty air from global warming pollution this summer. We recently collaborated with a health professional and mother of two sons with asthma to participate in a series of education-related events for media and the general public. Coming up next week, Shawna Hedlund, MPH along with Representative Erin Murphy and Assistant Commissioner Aggie Leitheiser will join WSF and Environment Minnesota on June 21st for a Clean Air Green Ideas & Ham breakfast and discussion about the Clean Air Act. Please join us! Read more about the health implications from global warming.

NP ' 86 Reunion
North Pole '86 Reunion Video
Finally, while the North Pole reunion was a highlight in May, we have a great video recap of the reunion to watch here!


Kind Regards,

Nicole Rom, Executive Director

Letter from the Executive Director

IMG_3470It has been an honor to host the 25th Anniversary of the Steger International Expedition to the North Pole with the Minnesota Historical Society and the Consulate General of Canada this month. The eight-member expedition team, from across the U.S., Canada and New Zealand, returned to Minnesota to celebrate a series of events. We hosted an Expedition Family Day for over 650 people who experienced hands-on activities about expedition life, sled dogs, and climate impacts on the Arctic. We also featured an evening public program at the MN History Center and the team spoke with local TV stations, WSF supporters and elected officials. The team joined the Canadian Consulate for lunch and Wilderness Inquiry for a canoe trip down the Mississippi River with school children and conservation partners.

We were impressed by the wealth of knowledge team members shared and their own eyewitness stories: Canadians Richard Weber and Brent Boddy talked about a loss of thick, old, multi-year ice, shortened dogsledding seasons and the loss of the summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean; wildlife biologist, Geoff Carroll provided his insight into impacts to Alaska’s large land mammals he studies, like caribou and musk ox; New Zealand team member Bob McKerrow, who now works for the International Red Cross in Sri Lanka, talked about communities in the Bay of Bengal being squeezed out by rising water levels; and Bob Mantell talked about the impact of the BP oil spill on communities in New Orleans, where he lives. Paul Schurke joined Will with a call to action to address climate change; and Ann Bancroft acknowledged the impact the expedition had on her career and thanked the team and all of Minnesota for the gifts afforded her and the entire team. Visit our website in the coming weeks for videos from the reunion events.

Finally, we are excited to announce we’ve moved into a new home within the Greenway building! Our new space can accommodate our growing staff, supporters and volunteers. Please continue to join us at events in the community, online and through financial support. Thank you!

Kind Regards,

Nicole Rom, Executive Director


North Pole Expedition Family Day a Success!

IMG_5282Over 650 visitors visited the History Center on Sunday May 15 to visit with team members of the 1986 North Pole Expedition. Many thanks to the spectacular group of volunteers that helped us at the event!  Mindy and Kraig Ahler-Olmstead, Joe Foss, Aimee Jaroscak, Lindsay VanPatten, Ben Braaten, Ellen Hadley, William Eddy, Stephen Schreader, Courtney Elits and Brian Miller helped visitors explore an Arctic base camp and learn what clothing, food and equipment were important to the expedition.  In addition, visitors were introduced to the impacts of climate change in the Arctic and what they could do to help fight climate change at home and with their family.  A closing program featured Ann Reed singing the song she wrote in honor of Ann Bancroft and the expedition, followed by a presentation featuring the team members sharing pictures and stories. Check back on our website soon for footage and photos of the day!

(Photo: Volunteers Joe Foss, WIlliam Eddy, Aimee Jaroscak, Ben Braaten, Lindsay VanPatten and Brian Miller at the Arctic Base Camp)

Don't end the school year without registering for our Summer Institute 2011!

Summer Institute 2011Spots are still open for Grades 3-12 Minnesota educators interested in attending our Summer Institute for Climate Change Education, August 11-12, 2011 at the School of Environmental Studies.  This year's institute will feature our new curriculum and online classroom focused on connecting students with Minnesota's unique biomes and how they will be impacted by a changing climate.  The curriculum is aligned with Minnesota state standards and includes classroom and outside activities.  The Institute is free and travel and accommodations for educators outside the metro is included!  For more information and to sign up today visit our Summer Institute page.

Emerging Leaders

Climate Generation Award Winners!

We are proud to announce the three MN High Schools that have been selected as Climate Generation Award Winners:

$1,500 First place - Mahtomedi High School, Zephyr Wind Turbine Project: Community members, school faculty/administrators, and students worked together to generate considerable support for the raising of a wind turbine on campus. The project also includes a curriculum developed in partnership with the University of Minnesota.

$500 Second Place - Edina High School, Water Bottle Filling Station Project: Earth Club members worked to install a water bottle filling station to promote the use of reusable water bottles and reduce the amount of plastic bottles that enter the waste stream.

$500 Second Place  - Pine Island High School, Carbon Reduction Project: The high school environmental club expanded the school's recycling system through paper collection bins, and large plastic bottle collectors, and are working with the school board to install hand-dryers in place of paper towels.

IMG_1305WSF Engages Youth in Power Shift 2011

WSF brought a delegation of high school youth from the YEA! MN program to the 2011 Power Shift youth summit in Washington DC, April 15-18, which drew 10,000 young people from across the country. YEA! MN students planned and facilitated a workshop for 50 youth on high school activism and participated in one of the largest grassroots organizing trainings in U.S. history. Keynote speakers included Al Gore, Van Jones, Bill McKibben, and Lisa Jackson. WSF Youth Programs Director, Abby Fenton, coordinated the high school delegation and worked closely with youth climate organizations across the Midwest to facilitate the grassroots training and massive lobby day on the U.S. Capitol in defense of the Clean Air Act.

AbbyPowerShift350WSF Youth Programs Director Presents at Climate Funders Meeting

WSF Youth Programs Director, Abby Fenton, was invited to speak at the Climate and Energy Funders Annual Meeting in Chicago this April, on behalf of the Will Steger Foundation, the RE-AMP network, and the youth climate movement. Abby shared success stories from REAMP/WSF's systemic approach to cross-generational collaboration and stressed the need to support youth working on the front-lines to address environmental justice and actively build the clean energy economy.


Pittarak - Northwest Passage 2011

Sarah and Eric McNair-Landry have been kite-skiing across the Northwest Passage for over six weeks and are nearing the end of the journey. Check out our regular features from Sarah and Eric McNair-Landry. Our favorite is their video on Navigation – learn how they monitor their direction as they kite-ski! Their short and amusing videos include explanations on how these two protect themselves from polar bears, cross open water, and manage other challenges along the way. [Read the Pittarak Expedition Trail Posts]

In The News

mnpost_thumb170Remembering the North Pole trek of 1986 -- and looking forward to the anniversary celebration

ELY, Minn. — Twenty five years ago this month, an expedition team reached the North Pole after enduring 56 days and 1,000 miles across fractured, shifting sea ice in temperatures that dipped below -70 degrees Fahrenheit. The epic ski and dogsled trek with its eight-member, 49-dog crew was a deliberate throwback to the days of the early explorers. This accomplishment, the first confirmed trek to reach the Pole without resupply, was deemed by National Geographic "a landmark in polar exploration." [via MinnPost]

25th Anniversary of Historic Dog Sled Expedition

kstp_thumbOn May 1st 1986 Will Steger, Paul Schurke and Ann Bancroft, all from Minnesota, were among six hardy souls who became the first documented, unsupported dog sled expedition to the North Pole. [via KSTP]

North Pole '86 Expedition 25th Anniversary Celebration

kare11_thumbGOLDEN VALLEY, Minn -- Relive the trials and triumphs of the historic 1986 expedition to the North Pole with Minnesotans Will Steger, Paul Schurke and Ann Bancroft, Canada's Brent Boddy and Richard Weber and New Zealand's Geoff Carroll and Bob McKerrow. [via KAREll]

wcco_thumb170North Pole '86 Reunion

WCCO-TV covers the 1986 North Pole Expedition's 25th reunion, held at the Minnesota History Center. [via WCCO]

mnpost_thumb170Will Steger laments the global warming change of heart of Tim Pawlenty

Polar explorer Will Steger tells Mother Jones that he's baffled by the way former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has changed his tune on global warming. [via MinnPost]

grist_thumb170This is like something out of Mean Girls: Former Minnesota gov Tim Pawlenty used to pal around with this amazing Arctic explorer dude, Will Steger, having slumber parties and plotting how to get the GOP to believe in climate change. Then Pawlenty fell in with a clique, the GOP Presidential Hopefuls, and if he wanted to impress his new friends, he had to turn his back on his old one. And they didn't even talk anymore! And they sat at different lunch tables! And Pawlenty wrote mean things about climate change anonymously on the bathroom wall! [via Grist]

Tim Pawlenty's Big Chill

motherjones_thumb170When Will Steger was 15 years old, he and his brother piloted an old motorboat down the Mississippi River from Minnesota to New Orleans. At 17, he journeyed to the Arctic. At 41, he became the first man in history to travel unsupported to the North Pole and come back alive. He's traveled across Antarctica by sled (another first), hopped freights, and found his purpose at a mountain monastery. [via Mother Jones]

natgeobw_thumb170Action Atlas

National Geographic Atlas features our work on their action oriented, geotagged web proejct. [via NatGeo Action Atlas]

stpeterherold_thumb170Steger explores tough terrain, issues in men’s health forum

MANKATO — Will Steger has fought through temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees below zero on four dog-sled expeditions to the North Pole, but his biggest fight now is Global Warming, which is widely believed to be melting the polar ice cap. [via St Peter Herald]

How Tim Pawlenty ditched his Arctic explorer bestie and turned his back on climate change


Phonebank: Defending the Clean Air Act

May 25, 2011, 6-8:30 p.m., Sierra Club Office, 2327 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN.

Help support strong health protections and defending the Clean Air Act! Training and pizza will be provided. The coal and oil industries are trying to weaken the Clean Air Act. We defeated multiple attacks on the Clean Air Act in the Senate in April, but Senator Klobuchar voted twice to weaken the Clean Air Act. Join us as we hold her and other Senators accountable for their bad votes to weaken the Clean Air Act by generating phone calls into her offices. For more information or to RSVP, contact  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Cannot join the phonebank? Take action online!

Photo of the Month

North Pole '86
Members of the 1986 North Pole Expedition Team, 25 Years Later, at the
Minnesota History Center. Left to Right: Will Steger, Brent Boddy,
Richard Weber, Bob McKerrow, Paul Schurke, Bob Mantell, Geoff Carroll
and Ann Bancroft.

Thursday, 14 April 2011 09:26

Events Not to Be Missed

Written by eNewsletter

Letter from the Executive Director

We’ve been hard at work this past month defending our key climate and energy laws. We survived attacks on the EPA last week, even though our own Senator Klobuchar voted in favor of two amendments that would weaken the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, none of the amendments passed.

In Minnesota, the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, which established Minnesota as national leader in statewide climate solutions, is being challenged at the state legislature. Legislators in both the Minnesota House and Senate are working to repeal the part of the Next Generation Energy Act that requires companies investing in new dirty energy from coal to compensate for the accompanied increase in carbon pollution. We organized a meeting with Governor Dayton and Will Steger, WSF Youth Programs Director Abby Fenton and nine youth leaders (representing WSF’s high school program, YEA! MN and several campus groups). The purpose of the meeting was for the youth and Will to share their concerns for our economy and environment and desire to move Minnesota towards a cleaner energy economy. The Governor was clearly moved by their passion and insistence that Minnesota cannot backslide on its transition away from coal.

WSF Office
In other good news, we’re moving next month! With anywhere from 2-7 people crammed into an office space of 449 square feet, we’re excited to move into a bigger and better space in the Greenway building where we can accommodate our growing staff and organization.

We were also added to the National Geographic Global Action Atlas giving platform to increase the opportunities where people can learn and support our work. Additionally, after a year-long process, we finally meet the Charity Review Council’s accountability standards for transparent and accountable practices. You can view our profile here.

Earth Day and the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are just around the corner. The National Environmental Education Foundation sponsors Earth Week every year, and this year the focus is on the world’s oceans, with unique resources on our oceans and the deepwater oil spill. We encourage you to get outside and do something for the planet this month! Check out many of the events we have in the coming weeks.

Kind Regards,

Nicole Rom, Executive Director

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 13:43

Midwest Momentum

Written by eNewsletter

Letter from the Executive Director

Nicole Rom, Executive Director I was lucky enough to spend four weeks traveling across New Zealand in February and early March. While it was a personal trip, I could not help but notice the impacts of climate change and incredible solutions that are underway across the country. The huts for independent trampers I used while hiking on some of the Great Walks of New Zealand were powered by energy from the sun, and across several of the rural areas I learned about wind and hydroelectric power being employed to serve this small island nation. While visiting the infamous Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers on the west coast of the South Island, I was struck by how much the glaciers have receded in just the last ten years. When I filled my small automobile with gasoline, I did a double take at the cash register; the cost was double or triple what we pay in the U.S., and yet while I gulped each time I knew that I was actually paying the true cost of oil to fuel my trip. I was often asked what I do for work and it always resulted in intriguing conversations with local Kiwis, Canadians and Europeans I met along the way. People either wanted to know more about the issue – which allowed me to emphasize the education and outreach work we do, while others had their own personal eyewitness to climate change story to share, which further emphasized this important aspect of our own organizational story.

Like you, we were saddened and worried when the earthquake hit Christchurch, NZ in February (luckily I only felt the aftershock when I was there), and now again, we are deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy of last week's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and our hearts go out to the many victims. For those of you interested in learning more about the nuclear reactor disaster in Japan, we recommend this resource. For more information about what it means for U.S. nuclear power, here is an opinion piece from Climate Progress, Joseph Romm.

Meanwhile, with spring around the corner, we are gearing up for a very busy spring and summer. Learn more about our upcoming events online and take a moment to read our blog – updated weekly with features from youth leaders and our staff!

Kind Regards,

Nicole Rom, Executive Director