About YES!

Empowering youth to partner with their community to create economic and environmental vitality through hands-on learning and team-based projects.

YES! is 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 through 12, guided by local, adult coaches. Since its inception in 2007, the program has engaged 2,618 youth.  These youth have worked with over 4,307 local businesses, organizations and community members to accomplish their goals.  These projects have impacted an additional 125,784 community members and 87,408 students.

Goals of YES!
  • Engage youth and empower them to take positive action in their communities
  • Develop leadership, community-building, and problem-solving skills
  • Increase awareness of career, economic, and entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Increase knowledge about energy issues & opportunities
  • Create sustainable communities
What are YES! Energy Action Projects?

Think installing solar panels, starting composting programs, building wind turbines, and slashing school energy costs.  These are just some examples of YES! energy action projects. Exciting, Inspiring, and Youth-driven.  YES! teams have not only saved energy with their projects but are raising awareness of renewable energy and energy conservation practices in their Minnesota communities.

See examples of past YES! Energy Action Projects here: 2015-16 Team Accomplishments.  Or, learn more about what the current teams are working on.



 YES! Program Events

These events are tailored each season to provide teams with the most up-to-date knowledge and experiences in the field of energy.

Examples of event activities include: meeting with professionals in the energy industry; visiting wind turbines, both large-scale and small-scale; participating in energy audits and touring LEED-certified buildings.

  • Fall Summit
    All teams gather together to kick-off the new season each year.
  • Winter Workshop
    Teams come together to explore hands-on energy education and gather further information and resources for their Energy Action projects.
  • YES! Spring Celebration and Award Ceremonies
    All teams are invited to celebrate their accomplishments at the Prairie Woods Earth Day Event.  We also travel to the communities of teams that win YES! awards to present the teams with their award and highlight their achievements in their community.

Please see the YES! Calendar for current dates and locations of this year’s events and more.


YES! Staff

YES! staff work intensively with teams to assess community assets and needs, create action plans, identify and involve community partners, and link teams with further funding resources to match the students’ passion with a real need and opportunity in their community.  Guidance by staff as well as interactions with business and industry experts leads to ambitious renewable energy and energy conservation projects that demonstrate an impact in the greater community.  Find contact information for the YES! staff here.


How did YES! begin?

The first YES! season was inaugurated in 2007, made possible by a partnership between Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center and Southwest Initiative Foundation. The expansion to double the size of the program for the 2009-2010 season, in collaboration with Prairie Ecology Bus Center, was funded in part by the Minnesota Renewable Energy Marketplace: An Alliance for Talent Development.  Organizations interested in partnering to bring YES! to their Minnesota communities should contact us at sayyes@youthenergysummit.org.

Program Partners

Please see the current Program Supporters page for additional information.

YES! operates in collaboration with Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, Laurentian Environmental Center, Ney Nature Center, and Lakes Country Service Cooperative. Major funding for YES! is from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), The McKnight Foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation, and others.