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Roseville youth advocate energy conservation

Adelante High School students participate in regional Youth Energy Summit
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Tyler Rios often yells at his parents to turn off lights in the house. “We’re wasting our resources,” Rios said. “Even if global warming is not a problem, we have limited resources and we need to conserve them.” Rios shared his commitment to energy conservation with two of his fellow students at Adelante High School in Roseville. Rios, a junior, and his classmates Evan Le Grand-Sawyer and Marcos Espinosa, both seniors, recently turned a passion for eco-friendly compact-fluorescent lights into a community service project as part of the Youth Energy Summit. Lodi Electric, Roseville Electric and the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District started the regional Youth Energy Summit last year to encourage youth to think green. Students attended a one-day energy and conservation conference at SMUD headquarters in January. As part of the program, the Adelante team presented its CFL bulb giveaway project before a panel of judges Thursday on the steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento. Seven scholarships were awarded, with a team from Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks taking home the grand prize: $1,250 for each member. Although the Roseville guys didn’t win, their teacher Kristine Wilson still wanted to celebrate. “I treated them to a conciliatory Starbucks venti frappuccino and hot chocolate and told them how proud I was of how professionally they handled themselves,” said Wilson, who acted as team adviser. This is the first year a Roseville team participated in the summit, said Roseville Electric spokeswoman Vonette McCauley. “I think it’s a good opportunity for kids to understand energy issues at a much deeper level,” McCauley said. “We might be looking at the next great idea. (The students) show a lot of passion. I’m proud of them.” During January’s conference, speakers discussed alternative energy and electric cars, city planning, green building and offered advice on how people can alter their water and energy use to create a more sustainable future. “It was pretty informative,” Grand-Sawyer said. “I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before.” Rios’ favorite part of the conference involved a presentation on non-gas-guzzling vehicles. “The electric cars were really cool,” he said. “They’re called Teslas. They’re like the Lamborghini of electric cars.” The conference sparked Rios’ idea to create a CFL giveaway for his team’s community service project. The guys have since tried to get the manager at Rios’ large apartment complex to turn off automated lights outside each unit for 30 minutes a day. They also passed out Safeway coupons for CFL bulbs to residents. “People are always complaining about how expensive CFL light bulbs are,” Rios said. The team is educating residents about the long-term cost savings of CFLs, which have a lifespan between 6,000 and 15,000 hours, unlike incandescent bulbs — these last about 750 to 1,000 hours. Encouraging residents to transition to eco-friendly light bulbs is part of the teenagers’ larger goal to promote all forms of energy conservation. “If we don’t do anything about (climate change) now, who will?” Grand-Sawyer said. “We don’t want to look back and say ‘Dang, we could’ve done something.’” After graduating, Grand-Sawyer plans on studying to become an actor, director, music producer or lawyer. Whatever he does, though, he said he’ll find a way to incorporate pro-environmental messages into his work. Rios wants to become an artist, writer or computer programmer after high school. He said he always wants to try and change the world. “Everyone tries to put teenagers down,” Rios said. “But I want to save the world as much as I can.” Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.