In just over two weeks, a group of Hinckley-Finlayson High School students have formed a new club called the Committee for Climate Action, drafted a petition that gathered over 200 signatures, and attended the Clean Energy & Climate Action Day in St. Paul.
Founding member Anders Prater told WCMP that the Committee for Climate Action began as a school project to fix the schools recycling program. Prater and fellow student Johnny Kordiak decided that if they wanted to make any sort of difference, they would need to think on a larger scale. Prater told WCMP, "If we want to make a bigger impact, then we will have to move on from just our school."
The students connected with teacher Brooke Anderson and local activist Brenna Doheny who told the students about the event in St. Paul and a bill titled Solar on Schools. Prater and Kordiak gathered some other students who were interested in climate activism and began the club.
The Solar on Schools bill was introduced in February of this year. It proses the creation of a grant program that would give schools a cost-effective way to install solar technology. An article on the Minnesota Legislature website said, "an investor would pay for the initial deployment of a solar energy system and a school district would make annual payments under a purchase payment agreement."
This bill is one of two in Minnesota's House. The second bill would create a low-cost loan fund that would help school districts by offsetting the cost of switching to cleaner energy.
During their trip to St. Paul, six students from the committee met with fellow climate activists and listened to different speakers.
In his interview with WCMP, Prater mentioned the importance of having a strong narrative as an activist. "A lot of the speakers talked about having a powerful message and having a story," said Prater. He then went onto say, "If you're a politician, you hear a lot of stories from a lot of people, but we've gotta set ourselves apart and make sure they remember what we say."
The group also met with Senator Jason Rarick to discuss the bill because the bill had just been introduced to the Senate. Parter said that Senator Rarick was excited to see you people interested in politics and making themselves heard.
The group plans to use the knowledge they gleaned from speaking with fellow activists to help improve their school. The hope to do an energy audit in the near future with the hope of learning how the district uses its energy.
Photo courtesy of the Hinckley-Finlayson Facebook page.