YIKES!- or Youth Involved in Keeping Earth Sustainable, is the organization that led to Recyclique and CommunEcos, YIKES!, originated in Spring 2007  through a joint project of Clean Energy Durham (CED) and two classes at the NC School of Science and Math to identify homes with potential to benefit from solar hot water in Durham’s Watts-Hillandale neighborhood.

In Spring 2008 YIKES! members took part in the Youth Climate Action Project (Y-CAP) – a series of workshops sponsored by NC Climate Advocacy Network, of Raleigh, including a rain barrel painting workshop and sessions on climate change science and policy, in preparation for youth lobby day at the State Legislature in Raleigh on June 4th, where teens presented arguments for bills under debate that would reduce the carbon footprint of our society. Y-CAP was organized by Laura Thigpen, an environmental educator in Raleigh, and was funded by a grant from SURGE (Students United for a Responsible Global Environment) through UNC’s Environmental Resources office.

The Y-CAP project spawned our 1st rain barrel painting event. After our first workshop in March, attended by 35 teens, YIKES! sponsored barrel-painting booths at several Earth Day festivals in Durham and Chapel Hill and they have run a booth at the Eno River Festival on July 4th weekends ever since. In 2008 The Forest Foundation offered YIKES! an empty warehouse space for a workshop and educational activities. Proceeds from rain barrel sales helped us purchase new lighting and electrical connections for the space and a digital projector. Roque Nonini, Hana Fructenicht and Sarah Plonski, three talented student artists, painted a fabulous mural of ocean and African ecologies on the walls of the large room, and a stage was built and a Pullen Baptist youth group painted a white backdrop for the stage for projecting slides and videos.

YIKES! sponsored a classroom project on the science of oilseeds crops funded by a $1000 grant from Project Learning Tree, in collaboration with Marion Brisk, a professor at the NC School of Science and Math. Dr. Brisk’s students studied prospects for canola, as a new winter crop for that will benefit NC farmers, while providing a sustainable local source of oil for both the restaurant and biofuel industries.

Other YIKES! activities included a student film project on biodiesel, a community garden project with Asbury Temple United Methodist Church, and the building of a solar space heater with NC School of Science and Math students. We formed an upcycling co-op in spring 2009 which we named Recyclique, and in the summer of 2010 we marketed our creations at the Durham Craft Market. Sandy continues to teach environmental classes at UNC and oversee various student service learning projects, including the Re-Hashed Trash Bash held at UNC in December 2010.