Building the Zephyr Wind Turbine

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When I entered Mahtomedi High School as a freshman, I wanted to join a club. I quickly realized that we didn’t have any clubs related to sustainability or the environment. I knew that several of my friends shared my interest, so I asked my friend, Spencer Legred, if he wanted to help get a club started. As freshman, we became the co-presidents of the Mahtomedi High School Eco Club. We have continued to meet every other Friday morning before school and consistently have had a group of about 15 students of all grades participating.

Fortunately for the Eco Club, there was a group in our community called the Mahtomedi Area Green Initiative that was very interested in working with us. The year we started, we found out that they were striving to put up a wind turbine in Mahtomedi near the high school. We thought it was a great idea, especially since our school mascot is the Zephyrs, and they were excited to have high school students get involved in the project. Not only would the students be enthused about something in our first year as a club, but we could also show the community that the issue was indeed important to the youth of our community.

We really got engaged in the project by selling t-shirts, designed by one of our members, to promote and raise money for the wind turbine. We attended sporting events, community festivals, the local farmers market and anywhere else we could find to try and raise awareness of the project in the community and raise money. Many of us that had been together in girls scouts even donated several hundred dollars that we had made over the years selling cookies. Altogether, our club directly raised almost $2,000 for the project and inspired dozens of community members and businesses to donate and raise the $100,000 needed for the project to be completed.

In 2011, the summer after my sophomore year, the community was able to install a 10 kilowatt wind turbine in our newly renovated stadium. Our Zephyr Wind Turbine is now an icon of the sustainability efforts happening in our community and a learning tool in our classes and for everyone that visits our school. I have continued to lead the Eco Club with Spencer all four years of our high school careers as we have tackled other smaller projects to help make our school more sustainable. The Mahtomedi Eco Club is very excited to be receiving the 2012 President’s Environmental Youth Award for all of our efforts.

Katie Ledermann is graduating from Mahtomedi High School in 2013 and will be attending the University of Minnesota – Morris to pursue degrees in environmental studies and management. She hopes to one day own and manage a sustainable business.

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