The creation and execution of FTN’s ReCharge! Retreat was part of a larger organizational strategy at Focus the Nation to create stronger follow-through with students, provide deeper empowerment and focused strengthening and diversification of our country’s youth constituency.
- Foster deeper national collaboration among rising multi-sector leaders (Technicians, Politicos, Storytellers, Innovators)
- Foster collaboration among areas of the country that are leading in solutions and those who are lagging.
- Provide a visceral, restorative experience in a region of the country that is currently accelerating its transition to clean energy
The ReCharge! Retreat took place on the South face of Oregon’s iconic Mt. Hood between August 19th and 26th, 2011. It was co-designed with The Center For Whole Communities in Fayston, VT who provided two of their faculty members to facilitate the week’s agenda.
At the start of the week, the cohort kicked their experience off with an Energy Tour that traveled to a low-impact hydro dam successfully restoring salmon runs on the Deschutes river while also generating 350mw of electricity, and co-owned by Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs; The Biglow Wind Farm in Wasco County, powering 125,000 homes; and the Boardman Coal Plant which is scheduled to shut down in 2020, or potential convert to biomass.
At the end of the week, the cohort witnessed the effects of climate change first-hand by hiking to Elliot Glacier which has lost 60% of its snowpack since 1982. Sandwiched by these two physical activities, the students engaged in deep restorative work that allowed them to further understand the assets they possess in their individual Quadrants, explore multi-quadrant collaboration, discuss the struggles they have faced in partnering across sectors, elders in power and other members of the environmental movement; the students also explored and discovered resiliency skills they will need as they head back to their communities and continue their work on this issue.
Each evening, the cohort shared dinner with and heard presentations from experts in each of FTN’s Collaboration Quadrants—dynamic people out there in the renewable energy industry already changing the game—representing Portland General Electric, Horizon Wind, McKinstry Engineering, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laborator, the Joint Bio-Engineering Institute, KEEN footwear and Holy Terror Organic Farm.
The Cohort: quadrant, socio-economic, ethnic, geographic and gender diversity
Upon arriving at the retreat, three students had previously participated in 2011’s F2A programming, while 17 students were entirely new to FTN programming.The 20 ReCharge!
Delegates were comprised of:
- 5 students in each of our Collaboration Quadrants of Technicians, Politicos, Storytellers and Innovators
- 50% male, 50% female
- 50% students of color, 50% Caucasian
Delegates attend colleges in following states
- California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont
- Diablo Valley College, UC Berkeley, Gainesville State College, Northwestern University, Washburn University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Columbia University, Cornell University, University of Oregon, Columbia Gorge Community College/Bucknell University, The Pennsylvania State University, University of Puerto Rico, University of Tennessee, Rice University, University of St. Thomas, University of Utah, Middlebury College
Undergrad/Graduate Degrees represented:
- Public Administration, Forestry and Natural Resources, Applied Environmental Spatial Analysis, Chemistry, Political Science, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Studies (ecology), Journalism, Earth and Environmental Engineering, Urban Planning, Journalism, Renewable Energy Technology, Engineering Science and Mechanics, Electronics Engineering Technician, Environmental Studies, Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies (Policy)
Post Retreat Follow Through
Upon arriving home to their campuses after the retreat, 100% of the Delegates have remained active in FTN programming and participate in regular coaching calls with an FTN coach and headquarters:
- 9 students are launching Phase 1 F2A teams as Focus Coordinators
- 2 students are returning to continue their Phase 3 F2A projects
- 9 students will be joining F2A teams on their campus as either team members, advisors or Clean Energy Forum youth expert panelists
I had honestly, one of the times of my life and its something I’ll always cherish and remember as a turning point in my development because now I know that I can do good things with a little help from my friends and that I have power within me to make a contribution to this world. Thank you for reminding me of that!
- Shelley Deadmond, University of Oregon, Storyteller Quadrant
Talking to Government Affairs director from PGE on the bus and throughout the whole Energy Tour was incredibly informative. Here is a woman who feels very similar to me (pragmatic, policy-focused, committed to clean energy solutions but not in a flakey, hippie-dippie way) who is doing something totally different than anything I had ever imagined. Talking to Sunny about her day-to-day responsibilities and how life at a utility can dictate policy creation and change the way governments think about energy was incredibly enlightening.
- Ben Wessel, Middlebury College, Politico Quadrant
I feel like the Retreat gave me inspiration and taught me how to be a more dynamic and effective communicator. I feel the Retreat will reinforced my desire to go further than being a wind turbine technician and work on project development, policy, research, community engagement, etc.
- Nick Scott, Columbia Gorge Community College, Technician Quadrant
 F2A refers to Forums-to-Action, FTN’s largest program, you can learn more about that at