ESI Youth Council efforts aid major legislative win

ESI council members stand in front of the state Capitol

The 2023-2024 ESI Youth Council was a big part of FMR's advocacy and engagement around stopping invasive carp this year.

This year, FMR's Environmental Stewardship Institute (ESI) Youth Council chose to focus our efforts on invasive carp advocacy. We staffed FMR events, created educational materials and shared information on how to take action on invasive carp with the community.

Why invasive carp?

We dedicated our work to this issue because of the threat invasive carp pose to our waters. As our project facilitator, Chiara, said, "We chose to work on invasive carp because of how important our river is to us for not only survival, but also because of the beautiful view, the area to enjoy and the habitat for our native wildlife. Without this river the Twin Cities would not be anywhere near what it is today."

In the fall we learned about carp from FMR staff and through our own research. Then we created educational carp infographics to share at events, advocated for action and gave presentations:

Several council members expressed that they learned about the many forms advocacy can take. Riya, our co-chair, reflected that "advocacy is a broad spectrum and can be done in many ways, whether it be meeting with a representative or making visuals (like infographics and creative valentines) to advocate for awareness."

We were so excited that all this advocacy resulted in a major win for the river: funding for an invasive carp deterrent downstream near Winona.

A big year for ESI

Even with all the carp events, we were still able to find time for other activities this year:

Looking ahead

The 2023-2024 ESI Council just ended, but our summer program is already in full swing! We had our kickoff meeting on June 12, and the summer fellows are just getting started on their projects.

We'll be spending a lot of time on the water this summer, with six paddling outings on the docket. We'll also have weekly coffee career chats to give the fellows a broad view of jobs in the environmental field. Two of our council members, Bella and Kaia, will be our summer program assistants. They're looking forward to working and canoeing with the fellows.

Next year will bring big changes to the council. Since we had six graduating seniors this year, only two of our council members will be back for the 2024-2025 ESI Council. They'll help steer the direction of the council, but growing leadership skills and advocating for the river will always be our mission.

Congratulations ESI seniors!

Sov stands with ESI council seniors around a cake

We're proud of these graduates, who have done so much for the river in their roles with ESI over the years:

  • Grace: 2022-23 ESI Chair, 2023-24 ESI Social Media Manager
  • Riya: 2022-23 ESI Social Media Manager, 2023-24 ESI Co-Chair, 2022 & 2023 ESI Summer Assistant
  • Brandon: 2022-23 ESI Community Outreach Coordinator, 2023 ESI Summer Assistant, 2023-24 ESI Co-Chair
  • Anas: 2022-23 ESI Community Outreach Coordinator, 2023-24 ESI Community Outreach Coordinator
  • Bella: 2021-22 ESI Community Outreach Coordinator, 2022-23 ESI Social Media Manager, 2023-24 ESI Community Outreach Coordinator, 2024 ESI Summer Assistant
  • Amani (not pictured): 2022 & 2023 ESI Summer Fellow, 2023-24 ESI Administrator

We can't wait to see what they do next.

As one graduating senior reflected: "My greatest takeaway from ESI was being exposed to more about the environment and careers in the environment. From discovering new parks and learning that you can kayak on the Mississippi to learning about different careers in the environmental sector, I have learned how vast the environmental sector is. ESI has allowed me to grow as a person by exposing me to different experiences that I wouldn't otherwise have known."

Thanks to ESI funders and partners

We couldn't make this program happen without support from partners, members and funders, including: 3M Foundation, American Beverage Foundation, Cargill Foundation, City of St. Paul, DNR No Child Left Inside, George Family Foundation, HB Fuller, Hennepin County, Minnesota Academy of Science, Minnesota Beverage Association, Right Track, Trillium Family Foundation, Xcel Energy Foundation.

Explore all of our Stewardship & Education updates.

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, July 30, 2024 - 5:30pm to 8:00pm
Rotary Pavilion at Levee Park, Hastings
Saturday, August 3, 2024 - 9:00am to 2:00pm
Mississippi River Gorge, Minneapolis
New date: Saturday, August 10, 2024 at 5 p.m.
Hidden Falls Regional Park, St. Paul