YES! (Youth Eco Solutions)

Deb Groebner
Southern YES! Coordinator
(About Deb)

“Youth are going to be the people to make the change.”–YES! student

YES! (Youth Eco Solutions), formally Youth Energy Summit, is a collaborative program between Ney Nature Center, Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, and Laurentian Environmental Center.

YES! Mission: Empowering youth to create solutions to today’s ecological challenges through hands-on action projects that fulfill community needs and build life-long skills.

YES! provides a unique opportunity for students to learn by engaging directly in community efforts that lead to dramatic demonstrations of renewable energy technology and conservation practices and exposes them to how science is applied in real life.

The Southern Cohort, based out of the Ney Nature Center, is coordinated by Deb Groebner.

Spring Competition Award Winners – Congratulations to all of the award winners and thank you to everyone who participated in the YES! program, you are all doing amazing work for our planet! “Thank you so much for your participation in the YES! program, and for all of your environmental contributions to your community, your school, and the state of Minnesota.” –Phil Votruba (2021 judge)

Click here to watch the YES! Awards Ceremony video (10 min)!

1st Place ($500): Westbrook-Walnut Grove High School

Westbrook-Walnut Grove High School YES! team did outstanding work in improving water quality, educating peers, and involving their community. One of the most impressive projects was the West End Reclamation project. In 4 short months the team turned a flooded parking lot into a beautiful rain garden that reduces flooding and increases water quality. The area also serves as a community gathering space with a shelter, a walking path, fruit trees, pollinator gardens, and more!

2nd Place ($250): Mankato West High School & Sleepy Eye Schools (tie)

Mankato West High School YES! team wowed the judges with their expertise in climate change, environmental justice, and solar energy. The team’s projects included creating a video for the CERTs Solar for Schools Video Contest, hosting an environmental awareness week to educate students on various topics, and planning a solar installation on their high school!

Sleepy Eye High School & St. Mary’s Catholic School YES! team impressed judges by their community involvement and student outreach efforts. The team completed a variety of projects including recycling over 1,000 lbs. of holiday lights, creating a separation table for cafeteria waste, conducting an Earth Week Celebration, turning plastic bags into mats for the homeless, and more!

Join YES! to be part of a network of over 30 teams across Minnesota who are actively engaged in hands-on sustainability projects that teach valuable skills such as leadership, team work, and problem solving all while having fun and helping to create solutions to today’s environmental challenges. Email Deb to learn more about YES!

For more information on the YES! Program, please visit