A core program of the Will Steger Foundation, Youth Environmental Activists Minnesota (YEA! MN) supports a network of high school environmental clubs working together across the Twin Cities Metro to empower student leadership on climate change solutions, facilitate shared skills and strategies, and take coordinated action at home, at school, and in the wider community. At the close of every school year YEA! MN takes a field trip away to celebrate the year’s successes and reflect on learning and growth opportunities for the coming school year. Student leaders play an active role in planning and coordinating the retreat.
The 2014 YEA! MN Retreat was definitely the best team bonding experience we’ve had so far this year. We’ve gained many new members compared to last year and over one night we became very close. We decided as a group we would take a trip to the Lake Country Land School Farm in Wisconsin. Our first day on the farm we got a tour of the farm and later on got to plant various types of squash and pumpkin. It’s safe to say we are the fastest planters YEA! MN has ever seen. During the planting process we were able to get to know each other more which made it more of a bonding experience.
That night we also had a YEA! MN meeting about this year’s steering committee. The conversation got pretty in-depth fast. Our new co-chairs Kendra and Carlos asked the group two questions, what would you change about YEA! MN and what would you keep? The discussion started quickly and we found that we all had similar opinions and goals for YEA! MN. By the end of the meeting I felt very many different feelings of happiness, excitement, comfort and possibility. Then we ended the night perfectly with a bonfire, campfire songs, photographs and playing ultimate frisbee.
Our last day at the farm started great with a feast of leftovers. We finished five and a half loaves of banana bread, watermelon, granola bars, and lots of other treats- needless to say the teenagers were content. Our task for the last day was getting to work with the animals, planting some more squash, and hoeing the crops. We definitely learned how much work it takes to be a farmer, but also how exciting it is to watch your creations grow.
By the end of the trip we were all tired, but enjoyed our last few hours on the farm with some lunch and messages of appreciation to each member of YEA! MN. We all enjoyed getting our hands dirty with the plants, feeding the animals and getting to have some quality team bonding time. Going home with a paper of comments given by members of YEA! MN expressing their appreciation and excitement to have you apart of the team was a pleasant end to a great weekend together.