YES! Events Move Online, Expanding Access for Students Statewide

With schools shifting between in-person, hybrid, and distance-learning models this year, YES! has transformed uncertainty into opportunity by adapting events like the Fall Summit, State Awards Ceremony, and Winter Workshops for online participation. These virtual learning experiences on Zoom are accessible to YES! students statewide regardless of whether they sit together in a classroom or join individually from home. All of the virtual events are recorded so that YES! teams can watch them anytime.

Our first online event was a May workshop called “What will YOU drive? Electric Vehicles and Clean Transportation,” featuring EV expert and advocate Jukka Kukkonen. The workshop helped participants understand how their own decision about what to drive impacts larger systems like climate, water quality, and human health. We learned about types of electric vehicles (EVs), ways to charge them, and how much money households can save by switching to an EV.

In October, YES! kicked off our new Virtual Series on Climate Change with a great presentation by Dr. Kenneth Blumenfeld, climatologist with MN DNR, called “How to Make Sense of Minnesota’s Changing Climate.” In addition to helping students understand the scientific evidence for climate trends in Minnesota, Blumenfeld shared personal stories about his path to a rewarding career in climate science.

On December 3rd, YES! hosted the second event in our Virtual Series on Climate Change. “Investigating Climate Change Using Ojibwe Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Scientific Ecological Knowledge (G-WOW Model)” with Cat Techtmann, Environmental Outreach Specialist/UofWI-Extension demonstrated a new way to think about climate change that integrates Ojibwe traditional ecological knowledge, scientific ecological knowledge, and place-based evidence one can observe.

As Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, "the only thing that is constant is change." The YES! program will continue evolving to meet the changing needs of our students and teachers amid the unique challenges of learning and doing eco-action projects during a pandemic!