By Liz Verley, Staff Writer
The Youth Energy Summit (YES) is described as a team-oriented youth program that uses hands-on, experiential learning and energy action projects to address energy opportunities and issues in rural Minnesota communities.
Students are the energy of the YES program. YES teams are student groups representing schools or communities in grades 8 – 12, guided by local adult coaches.
YES Club members at Royalton High School recently had the opportunity to attend a winter workshop at St. John’s University.
There they had their choice of gaining knowledge by touring the field of solar panels that are supplying the campus with 4 percent of its energy needs.
They could also visit Blattner Energy, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum building. Blattner builds large-scale wind farms and use a variety of energy sources to run their company, including solar, wind and geothermal. There were several other tours available.
The Royalton YES Club members are also involved in the District’s Tech Club and have been involved in the proposed Splash Park design.
In its first year, the Royalton YES Club has been involved with assessing and setting goals to continue working with and educating the community and school district toward energy efficiency and green technology.
YES Club president Damian Lenarz said, “It is good to work with the community on how to change to green without changing lifestyles.”
Examples given by club members included recycling, turning off lights, unplugging appliances not in use, etc.
Deserae Hellickson said, “Being in YES is fun. It is nice to learn how we can change energy use by doing little things. When we really get things going it will be great for our community.”
Eventually the Club’s goal is to look at the younger students and work with them in starting habits early.
“I like coming up with ideas to save money for the school and community and to be recognized for the achievements we accomplish,” said club member Austin Hackett.
Addressing his feeling on the YES Club’s achievements, Hunter Jasmer, president of the Tech Club, said, “Since you put so much work and dedication into a project you get a good sense of accomplishment when you get positive feedback.
Club Adviser Marty Bratsch said, “These kids care about their community and school. The seniors are concerned that the Royalton Schools have a good tradition and want to keep that tradition going. They will continue with these skills of making things better even after graduation. They are an awesome group. They have so much energy. These kids are why teachers go into teaching.”