As a teen when I heard the word energy I automatically thought of coffee, sugary snacks, and anything that could get me through the day. Unfortunately that is not where energy that powers our daily lives – home, school, work, etc. – comes from! During my time serving as president of my high school’s Green Club, one of my tasks was developing ideas for alternative energy sources and teaching middle and elementary school kids about the importance of energy conservation. Today kids have taken energy conservation to the next level and their efforts are truly inspiring.
The Minnesota Student Energy Project (MNSEP) is a student-founded, student-led non-profit that began in 2008. What started as three high school students with an idea to raise money for solar panels for their school, Mayo High School, has expanded to include numerous students across the state. What the teens didn’t expect was the amount of money and interest that their project would spark. Local media became interested. Other schools and community leaders wanted to talk with the students about how they developed such a strong resource base and what they could do to help expand MNSEP’s efforts.
This year MNSEP has caught the eyes and ears of Minnesota legislators, national news, and regional organizations. The young people that make up MNSEP are on the move making sustainable change. Through grants from the Federal Department of Energy and numerous other organizations MNSEP is spreading its goal of educating communities on alternative energy and conservation.
We can all learn something from the MNSEP members about energy and unity. They took a small group and turned it into something bigger because they had a goal and a dream to see a sustainable future for generations to come. From the looks of things, they are going to keep dreaming and achieving.
About the author: Ameshia Cross joined the EPA in December as a STEP intern in the Air and Radiation Division in Chicago. She has worked for numerous community organizations, holds seats on youth education boards, and is active in politics. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis on environmental policy and legislation.