Growth from the YES Conference

Written by: Kate Tovey

A little less than a month ago, five of my fellow Conservation Coaches and I were given the opportunity to attend and present at the YES Conference in Oakland. YES stands for Youth for the Environment and Sustainability and the conference contained just that. Around 1,200 excited and passionate youth from the nine counties in the San Francisco Bay Area gathered at Laney College in Oakland for a day of learning, sharing and bonding over our like mindedness when it comes to preserving our planet and its resources.

When I walked onto the campus early that Saturday morning, I immediately knew that it was going to be an important day in my life. I looked around and saw youth of all ages talking and observing the different environmentally themed booths and activities. I thought about how unique and special it was to be able to be standing among the future conservationists and environmentalists who will be influential in the well being of the Bay Area and the planet.

When it was time for the opening ceremony, all of us attendees gathered into the gym and listened to the coordinators of the event, including the mayor of Oakland, speak about what the goals and activities of the day were going to be. Afterward, us Walnut Creek Saves Conservation Coaches headed off to our designated room in anticipation of giving the presentation about our program that we had been working on for weeks.

We had a small audience due to the abundance of options of presentation sessions that were available to attend, but the experience was still very valuable. We communicated an outline of our program’s goals, outreach efforts, consultation procedures, and overall student experience working for Walnut Creek Saves. Then we played some interactive games with the audience. It was great practice for my communication skills, presentation delivery, and overall confidence. At the end, I felt fulfilled knowing we had shared our efforts in our community.

At lunch, the conference provided interesting activities like yoga and chalk drawing while upbeat music completed the positive atmosphere. After lunch, we had the opportunity to listen to a presentation session about electric bikes and it helped broaden my view on alternative methods of transportation. To wrap the day up, we attended the closing ceremony where we heard from several motivational speakers and poets about their hope for change and their struggles for success. It made me recognize the power I have to make significant change in and for the world.

At the end of the conference, I felt that I had not only bonded with my colleagues, but also I had become a part of something bigger than myself and my immediate community. I will continue to think back on the valuable skills I learned at the YES conference as I continue to participate in the effort for change and growth for our planet.

To help do your part in the community, sign up for a free Walnut Creek Saves in-home consultation by calling 1-800-314-5997 or sending an email to

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