Students Taking Action to Save Energy and Money

Patrick Santelli
Project Coordinator, Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbom

In schools all over Minnesota, students are working with teachers, staff, technical experts, and members of their communities to advance sustainability and do their part to save the world. And more than ever before, these students are collaborating across borders, learning from the successes and lessons of their peers across the state.

Over one hundred public high schools, colleges and universities have joined forces to take part in the Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon program to reduce their carbon emissions and save on energy costs. You can learn about the innovative projects being done at each school at, but we wanted to highlight the efforts of four of our trailblazing student teams:

• Eagle Ridge Junior High (Savage, MN): The Eagle Ridge Treehuggers Environmental Club planted 70 donated trees for Arbor Day to sequester carbon and to help raise awareness for students on campus, and is also working with the school district to switch from styrofoam cafeteria trays to a trayless dining approach. As a result, the school will dramatically reduce the amount of waste produced while saving thousands of dollars on trays!

• Aitkin Public Schools (Aitkin, MN): The Gobbler Green Team at Aitkin is working to reduce the number of cars driving to school. To tackle this problem the team surveyed students and teachers about their transportation choices. When the results were tallied, the team made suggestions to the administration on ways to reduce the school’s carbon footprint and encourage more active lifestyles: encouraging walking for those in town, buying more racks to accommodate a greater number of bicyclists, and carpooling.

• Willmar High School (Willmar, MN): Students are growing produce year round in a greenhouse heated by solar thermal panels and a biomass burner. They are providing their low-carbon veggies to local food shelves and schools, and host droves of students and community members every month who are eager to learn more about local food and renewable energy.

• Macalester College (St. Paul, MN): The Macalester Conservation and Renewable Energy Society (MacCARES) catalyzes global warming solutions through energy efficiency, smart design, and renewable energy at the college and many other communities. The Society pioneered a Clean Energy Revolving Fund on campus to fund energy improvements, a model that is now being used at colleges and universities across the country, and was behind several off-campus projects, including Cooperative Energy Futures and The Summer of Solutions.

Other networks of student teams actively working on sustainability include Youth Environmental Activists (YEA MN), Transcampus Energy Action Movement (TEAM MN), and YES! Youth Energy Summit. Learn more about them and what you can do at your schools by exploring the resources provided.

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