Shetek Lutheran Ministries’ LED lighting project shines a light on energy education

March 2023

Located a bit north of Slayton, Minnesota, Shetek Lutheran Ministries is a year-round camp on Keeley Island on Lake Shetek.

They used their CERTs Seed Grant to combine a fairly ordinary LED lighting upgrade of their buildings with an extraordinary amount of clean energy education, including a robust survey of key stakeholders and camp participants about their experiences.

What a great example of using a community-led clean energy project to help people understand how they can do something similar in their homes! 

Katie Chapman, environmental education director with Shetek Lutheran Ministries, did such a fine job submitting a final report to CERTs loaded with details, much of the report is included here verbatim. Thank you, Katie! 

Project details

Shetek Lutheran Ministries staff developed and provided educational courses on energy conservation and sustainable energy practices. These programs were made available to both student (preK-12) and adult/senior citizen participants through summer camp, school field trips, and public/private program opportunities both off and on-site.

Utilizing newly installed LED lighting as an example of choices available to make positive changes in home and organizational environments, these programs helped to create opportunities for connection and engagement, and helped to advance awareness of regional clean energy initiatives. In addition to these programs, LED lighting was installed in various camp buildings, replacing decades-old inefficient lighting fixtures. Key stakeholders were surveyed for their interest in energy conservation and cost-saving.


Which communities did you serve and how did you share this project?

Because of the unique nature of our program scheduling and availability, energy efficiency/conservation programs were offered across southwest Minnesota, southeast South Dakota, and northwest Iowa.

We were able to serve many different populations: school groups (public, private, and homeschool), Scouts, youth and adult camp participants, senior citizen groups, 4H, and more. Programs were also available for cross-cultural and low- income groups, as well as those with physical/mental disabilities.

This program was communicated through many different means. We utilized several local newspapers to announce the project to our surrounding area, and submitted press releases to a number of organizations such as MAAEE and MN Naturalists.

The project was also communicated via our social media (Facebook and Instagram), our multiple online and printed newsletters, and church congregation visits.

What did you learn from this project? If you were helping someone else replicate your project, what advice would you give them?

Energy Outreach MaterialIt was inspiring to learn several key points throughout this project:

  1.  People are genuinely interested in opportunities for energy conservation, sustainability, and related cost savings.
  2.  PreK-12th grade students are incredibly knowledgeable about the environment and our role in protecting it.
  3.  There are myriad educational resources available for both practice of and educating about energy conservation.
  4.  Our donor base was electrified by our project endeavors for many reasons. (NOTE: CERTs assumes “electrified” was a pun, and we are INTO it!)
  5.  We also learned what a significant impact energy conservation work can have on our overall energy costs at camp.

Regarding education — we would recommend thoroughly researching all curriculum and material options, and to reach out to energy and environmentalism organizations for more information! It was also relieving to find out that people were very much interested in our project and that it wouldn't be an uphill battle to garner support.

"We also learned what a significant impact energy conservation work can have on our overall energy costs at camp."

Katie Chapman, environmental education director, Shetek Lutheran Ministries

Has this project spurred other ideas or next steps?

We will continue to highlight energy conservation as a long-term goal for all guest experiences here at Shetek Lutheran Ministries! Energy conservation opportunities such as composting, gardening, and other endeavors will also be an intrinsic part of future programs, both off and onsite, through our Environmental Education programming.

Clean Energy Focus: Energy education and and LED lighting upgrade

Southwest CERT Seed Grant: $5,000

Other Funds Leveraged: Shetek Lutheran Ministries' donor base

Energy Saved Each Year: 4,110 kWh

Money Saved Each Year: $534

People Involved and Reached: 1,716

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us about your work, the project, or the seed grant process?

We were very grateful to have had the experience of reaching out to guests, donors, and campers about energy conservation, and to have had the positive response through both survey results and one-on-one interactions.

It seemed like people were compelled to change their energy usage after attending our programs, after hearing about our endeavors at camp, and seeing how easy it was to make those changes. Most of their interest was related to cost savings, but there was good feedback regarding environmental concerns as well.

We offered a few ideas for changes in the business and home settings through our programming that people found to be quite manageable.

The process of applying for and being supported through the grant period was wonderful, and we appreciate the work of CERTs so much!

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