Young Environmentalists Society (YES!)

SOFO’s Young Environmentalists Society

SOFO’s Young Environmentalists Society (YES!) is led by Mare Dianora, an interdisciplinary artist whose practice involves building community and exploring connections to home and place, YES! is open to young environmentalists, aged 10 – 16, who want to help prevent climate change as they discuss various challenges and discuss ideas that can impact our precious environment. The program will include guest speakers and explore topics such as hydroponic farming, composting, environmental career goals, water conservation, robotics, food and merchandise packaging, and more.

December YES! Update 

We had two meetings for YES this month. Our first meeting was on December 15th via Zoom with Jillian Worssam. Jillian invited the members to create a presentation of a migratory species. Five members presented a variety of species. We also agreed to go forward with our next book discussion featuring “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate.

Our second meeting was in person with Frank Quevedo who gave our group an informative owl presentation. We followed by going on a walk to two locations locally to try and spot owls. Although we were unsuccessful, the members left with confidence to go on their own owl walks.

In addition to our meetings, our group has been asked by Guild Hall to participate in the Student Art Festival. After much discussion, the members have decided to create a mini wind farm with each participant creating their own designed set of propellers. This month has been busy with distributing and planning for that project. We are all looking forward to seeing that come together. 

YES! Photo Gallery 

YES! Video Library

Previous Updates

November 2020

On November 21st, 2020 – Yes Members met for a hike at the Seal Haulout trail in Montauk. We had about 20 people (members and their families) join the hike and the weather could not have been more perfect. We were lucky to see about 10 seals both in the water and on the rocks. The group took a photo to send to our collaborator, Jillian Worssam, in Arizona. In December, she will be hosting a Migration Contest for the gorup – and we discussed the seals as a possible migration project for the members.

October 2020

We had our beach clean up this past Saturday with the YES members and their families at Long Beach. Jill Kampf from Surfrider Foundation did a water quality lecture and demonstration for us ahead of the clean up. We all learned what they are testing for and the sources of those pollutants. It was a crazy windy – but beautiful day! We collected lots of tiny tiny plastic pieces, 87 cigarette butts and other litter big and small. 

September 2020

Our YES program was very busy during the month of September with our fundraiser to benefit CAMFED – The Campaign for Female Education in Africa (

The YES members collaborated to create and self-publish their own cookbook of favorite recipes for sale at our fundraising table on September 13, 2020. In addition, we raffled off many generous donations from our local community. We were overwhelmed and so thankful for the abundance of support. Our group raised over $2000 for CAMFED and this will enable several girls in Africa to attend school for one year. The members presented the check ‘in person’ via Zoom to the CAMFED staff in both NYC and San Francisco and members were able to ask direct questions about how the money is practically distributed. It was a very special experience for our group. 

August 2020

August was a busy month for our YES! members! We have decided as a group to do some fundraising during the month of September for the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED). We met several times to brainstorm and get organized for this event. The kids had to come up with clever ideas in this age of COVID – so they decided to create a cookbook that they would sell with their own recipes. This took quite a bit of organizing to collect them all and have them presented in the same format. It was a group effort and slowly we made progress until all of the recipes were submitted and the books could be bound together. 

In addition to the fundraiser preparations, we met again with our NOAA climate scientist friend, Jillian Worssam,(via Zoom – as she is in Arizona) to discuss the book “The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown. Jillian offered the kids to run another contest for them – this time they would be creating food webs for a habitat of their choice. The group also voted on the next book to discuss with Jillian and it was an overwhelming majority – it was decided we will continue with the series and read “The Wild Robot Escapes.” Our meeting for that discussion will be in October.

July 31, 2020

On Thursday, July 23,  several members of our group met with Jillian Worssam (via Zoom) to present their projects which explored the creation of an invention or device to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Four members presented their ideas and Jillian responded to their presentations with praise for their ingenuity and questions for each about how their ideas can be improved and what further aspects they might consider (such as cost, placement, noise, size considerations). She felt each was so unique in its approach that she was unable to pick one ‘winner.” All four participants eagerly await a prize from Arizona.

We had our first in-person meeting on Saturday, July 25, and it was exciting to be together.  Our special guest was Scott Bluedorn, a local artist, environmentalist and activist.  Scott brought a diverse selection of artworks to inspire our group in the forms of drawing, printmaking and sculptures made from found objects from our local nature. He spoke to the group about his process and what inspires him. He gave some advice about how to approach the YES! logo design the members are now working on and which will be submitted before the next meeting.

July 17, 2020

 Our YES members have been very busy these last few weeks! Several members have come by the museum to meet me and pick up their new book for our July book discussion with climate scientist, Jillian Worssam. I also had the chance to show the garden to the members and their families for the first time! Everyone was incredibly excited to be there in person and see everything first hand. 

 We met for our latest Zoom meeting on Thursday, July 9th. According to the 2040 film, which we watched as a group, “Educating girls and empowering women is one of the most high-impact and cost-effective ways for every nation on this planet to take positive action on climate change.” Our YES members have decided to take on some fundraising to raise money to pay for a year’s school tuition for a girl in Africa. We are brainstorming on how we can fundraise and organizations to support and we are excited to announce our plans as we finish our research. I am so energized by the creativity of the group! 

 This week, we will be having an extra meeting to welcome a special guest, Lauren Ringler from Ocean First Institute. Lauren will be speaking about her zero waste goal, the organization – and their mission. We look forward to hearing what Lauren has to share with the group this week!

June 19, 2020

On Friday, June 12th, our group had the pleasure of viewing (virtually) the film 2040 by director Damon Gameau which shows a glimpse into a future filled with hope and solutions. I received such positive feedback from the members (and several parents) who completely enjoyed the movie and found it informative, positive and sometimes funny.

Following the film, our group met Tuesday afternoon and we had Krae Van Sickle attend and speak to the group about both the film and his organization, “Drawdown East End.” Krae grew up on a biodynamic farm in California and has a lifetime of practice in conservation. He helped set up the Land Preservation Fund for the East End and explained to our group how a certain amount of money from each real estate purchase goes into a fund to purchase land to be preserved. Since that fund was started, over 10,000 acres in our region has been spared development. In addition, Krae talked to us about several of the “Drawdown” principles to reverse global warming. This program was developed by the organization’s founder, Paul Hawken and outlined in his 2017 book “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.” We discussed ideas about a plant-rich diet, food waste, green buildings and energy audits for homes to detect ways to reduce our impact on the environment right in our own homes.

Krae’s biggest message to the students was that the most important thing you can personally do for climate change is to talk about it with your families, at your schools and in your community.

We are looking forward to concluding our book discussion on “The Big Melt” by Ned Tillman with Jillian Worssam (from Flagstaff, Arizona) who is a regional leader for the NOAA Climate Stewards program. We will be discussing both the book and more solutions we can take forward to help our planet.

June 2, 2020

On Thursday, May 28, we had our YES! meeting via Zoom with seven members joining the discussion with our special guest, Elisa Ringholm from the Story of Stuff organization. We discussed how the environment is in crisis and what would be the best use of our time as a group. Elisa shared some amazing resources and we discussed her organization’s short films about topics of local and global interest: single use water bottles, electronics, cosmetics, microbeads and microfibers. Each member had the opportunity to ask Elisa questions including how we determine which sunscreens are safe for our body and the environment and how can we manage all of the recent pollution caused by people leaving masks and gloves everywhere. In the coming weeks, we will be hosting a digital viewing of the first feature-length documentary “The Story of Plastic” courtesy of the Story of Stuff.

The YES! program garden boxes at the museum have been taking shape. The vegetable starters the members planted on our first meeting in February have grown tall and are ready to be transplanted. The boxes (which had become quite overgrown!) have been tilled and weeded and we have received a generous 5 cubic yard soil donation from Marders Nursery in Bridgehampton, NY. The soil will be distributed into our three large garden boxes and the plants will be placed for best growth. We thank Marders Nursery for supporting our program. Everyone is very excited to see our project move forward.


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