Bright Energy Solutions

Student Group Grabs Green Grant

Never underestimate the power of a few determined young people who want to make a difference.
 
That’s the lesson Ortonville High School science teacher Kristi Moberg has learned as advisor for the Local Environmental Focus Team (LEFT). The seven-member student group organized in January of 2009 to encourage their peers and teachers to recycle. Within a few months, they had researched a host of other energy-saving measures for their school and been awarded a $20,000 state grant to fund their recommended improvements
 
“They are amazing kids,” Moberg said. “When we found out about the grant opportunity they went right to work researching ways to save energy.” The group has looked into projects ranging from efficient lighting to vending machine controls and computer network management.
 
The grant funds – courtesy of the Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon program – are being coupled with incentives from the Ortonville Municipal Utilities to finance energy-efficiency projects. Maintenance and Custodial Director Glenn Henningson, who works closely with Moberg’s group, oversaw completion of a large lighting upgrade last spring. Nearly one-third of the project’s cost was rebated back to the school by Ortonville Utilities, Henningson said, which means next year’s LEFT group will still have several thousand dollars available to spend on additional energy-saving measures in 2011.
 
Even better, the lighting improvements are expected to save the school about $1,600 in electricity costs annually.
 
In addition to their environmental activities, Moberg said the LEFT members are involved in music, sports and drama. “They’re in everything,” she said. With so many other commitments, the students meet every couple weeks over their lunch period, and do research in their spare time.
 
The members’ efforts will not only pay off for the school, but are also impacting their personal lives. The group was invited to present their efficiency improvement plans to the Minnesota State Legislature this spring. “The kids thought it was fantastic – just speaking at the Capitol,” Moberg said. “They got a lot of applause. Every time they said how much energy would be saved, the legislators applauded.”
 
The LEFT team has done presentations for the Ortonville elementary classes, and also presented at the Middle School Science and Nature Conference at Southwest State University in Marshall. With their commitment and success, the LEFT members have made an impression on their peers, as evidenced by several classmates who plan to join LEFT this fall. “We could have a pretty large group,” Moberg said.

 
For more information contact:
Kristi Moberg, 320-839-6181
Glenn Henningson, 320-808-9645