With a solid plan, well-respected wind energy contractor and committed community behind us, students have played a major role in working to raise the $100,000 needed to build a 10 kilowatt wind turbine adjacent to the high school football field. The Zephyr Wind turbine, funded by private donations and grants, will be owned by Mahtomedi Public Schools. In the fall of 2009, the current group of Eco Club students got educated about the Zephyr Wind Project and made the decision to do what they could to support the fundraising and outreach components of the project. They planned, organized and followed through on the creation and sales of t-shirts to benefit the project. Through additional fundraising efforts, including several girl scouts in the club donating their cookie sales, the club has generated almost $3,000 for the project. They also participated in staffing and educating guests at a project fundraiser last summer that generated over $30,000.Eco Club students have organized speakers to occasionally attend their weekly meetings to provide background and increase their knowledge of the issues. Through use of the student announcements, including parent e-mails, students, staff and parents from throughout the high school have been invited to attend the presentations. Students have also staffed several community events with the purpose of educating the community about the project, reaching several hundred kids and community members. Events included the Mahtomedi Farmers Market, the school district Halloween Ball, RITE of Spring (community Earth Day event), two community engineering education events, football and basketball games, Zephyr Art Festival in the town square and the Zephyr Wind Project fundraiser. Residents and community members repeatedly commented on the knowledge and maturity of the students involved in staffing the numerous events. Those of us helping to coordinate the project believe that we couldn’t have accomplished what we did or received the participation of so many partners without their involvement.
The Zephyr Wind turbine will produce electricity for our schools while at the same time linking to Mahtomedi’s impressive K-12 Engineering Leadership Program and nearby Century College. It will be equipped with performance and wind measuring devices that will generate real-time data accessible via the Internet for learning experiences in science, technology, engineering and math. Other schools will be able to tap into the Zephyr Wind Project by accessing the data from the wind turbine. Real-time data from the project will be available through the internet. We are pursuing a partnership with the schools of the White Earth Tribe in northwestern Minnesota as they have a similar turbine, which will enable some interesting comparisons.
We have enough funds on hand to begin construction of the turbine, which is planned to be completed sometime during the summer of 2011. Our partnership, fundraising and project model can be replicated in other communities, and we would welcome the opportunity to share what we have learned with others.
Jeff Ledermann, Mahtomedi High School Eco Club Advisor
Will Steger Foundation is proud to announce the winners of our Climate Generation Award. Launched in partnership with the British Council and California Air Resources Board, the Climate Generation Program is a school-based competition connecting youth leadership and environmental curriculum with climate action projects. High Schools in Minnesota were eligible to participate at no cost, and encouraged to submit action projects in the following focus areas: energy conservation, renewable energy, water conservation, transportation, purchasing, facilities, awareness/communication.
Our three winners were chosen through a competitive process with final judging provided by the Will Steger Foundation Climate Champions, 10 dynamic youth leaders between the ages of 16 and 26 located across the Midwest. Winning projects were chosen for their authentic youth engagement, their environmental impact, and their integration of curriculum and other formal/informal learning opportunities.
First place went to Mahtomedi High School for their Zephyr Wind Turbine Project. Students, faculty, administrators, and community members worked together to generate public support and funding for the project which has already broken ground on school property. The project also includes curriculum developed in partnership with the University of Minnesota. Mahtomedi High School will receive a $1500 award to honor their work and support next steps
Two schools were tied for second place. Edina High School was chosen for it's Water Bottle Filling Station Project, aimed at reducing plastic bottle waste and encouraging the use of reusable water bottles. The Project Earth group worked closely with their faculty advisor to create peer buy-in for the project, generate public awareness and build financial support through a series of creative fundraising efforts. Edina High School will receive a $500 award to honor their project and support further implementation.
Pine Island High School was also chosen for second place. The high school Environmental Club conducted an extensive survey of paper use and waste through out the school and was able to significantly expand it's recycling program by securing new bins for each classroom and large plastic collectors in the hallways. The club also presented to the school board in support of hand-dryers in school bathrooms as means to reducing paper consumption and waste. They are currently in the process of securing support for this installation. Pine Island also received the $500 award in honor and support of their efforts.
Not only is it exciting to see concrete examples of school-based solutions addressing the climate crisis, it is even more significant to see students taking an active role in selecting and launching these projects in their communities. With active peer engagement, project visibility grows. It is our hope that these projects will inspire continued youth initiative on solutions and create a culture-shift from consumption to conservation on these campuses, and in schools across the state.
Letter from the Executive Director
It 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!
Nicole Rom, Executive Director
North Pole Expedition Family Day a Success!
Over 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!
Spots 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.
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.
WSF 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.
WSF 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]
Remembering 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
On 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
GOLDEN 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]
North Pole '86 Reunion
WCCO-TV covers the 1986 North Pole Expedition's 25th reunion, held at the Minnesota History Center. [via WCCO]
Will 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]
This 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
When 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]
National Geographic Atlas features our work on their action oriented, geotagged web proejct. [via NatGeo Action Atlas]
Steger 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.
Cannot join the phonebank? Take action online!
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.
What would you do to address climate change if money wasn't an obstacle? For many young people passionate about the environment, ideas are not what's lacking. It's the means to make these ideas a reality that stands in the way of effective leadership and implementation.
Of course there is mentorship, skills training, community support, time and energy to consider - which are equally if not more important. But concrete funds and the ability to raise them are considerably more challenging for young people than adults who are in the work force and often part of a larger community of connected people.
You can view our full profile at the Charities Review Council.