Washington (CNN)- President Obama surprised a group of young environmental organizers Friday during what they thought was just a meeting with White House staffers about energy policy.
"We went in thinking we were meeting with senior staff and there walked in Barack Obama," said Courtney Hight, co-director of Energy Action Coalition, "We got to share with him what we care about."
Hight's group was taking part in Power Shift 2011, a conference of young environmental organizers gathering in Washington to focus on climate and energy policy.
The White House meeting highlighted a major rift President Obama and environmental groups: nuclear energy.
"We made it clear we don't support nuclear," Hight said. "The president said it's something he's going to continue to support, so we have a difference of opinion on that."
Hight said that while she feels the president has done good work on energy efficiency and renewables, she wants to keep the pressure to transition to what she called true clean renewable energy such as solar and wind.
Although there were differences in the details of energy policy, another organizer at the meeting saw the president return to his roots.
"We saw the community organizer side of President Obama come out in this meeting," said Maura Cowley, co-director of Power Shift. "I think we're hoping it's the beginning of a dialogue."
Later in the day at the actual Power Shift conference, former Vice President Al Gore brought the crowd to their feet with a boisterous speech about the environment and climate change.
"Our leaders have not done enough," said Gore. "All we need is the political will, and political will is a renewable resource."