June, 2014 – Issue #9
Message from Cyane Dandridge
In the past few years, students of all ages have become significantly more interested helping to solve our environmental challenges. In elementary schools there is an awareness that did not exist five years ago, high schools are implementing new environmental approaches in the classroom, and colleges and universities are developing new majors and environmental focuses. And everywhere, student-led green teams are having significant impact.
Yet every week I meet college graduates with degrees in environmental studies, planning, and science that do not know where to start in their careers. In a time where conservation is critical in all aspects of business, government, and policy, we need to provide our students and college graduates with career readiness pathways that support meaningful work-based learning, internships and mentoring. Participating on student-led green teams gives fantastic real world experience, but is not enough. We need to prepare students to understand the variety of jobs that exist within this space, and how to gain access to them.
At SEI we work to address this need. One of our solutions was the development of the Marin School of Environmental Leadership (MarinSEL)
, a public magnet high school. In MarinSEL students gain experience in research, work alongside professionals, and design, manage, and implement projects that have tangible environmental benefits and outcomes. Another SEI solution was to create opportunities for emerging college gradates in climate resiliency efforts at local governments and organizations. Through Climate Corps Bay Area (CCBA)
, our 10-month fellowship program, we’ve trained over 100 fellows core skills and leadership for the workplace. As work-based education becomes more of a byword around the country, our hope is that more such programs emerge to provide needed skills to our new workforce.
As we enter an age defined by an intense need for innovation to solve our problems created by past innovation, we must rethink how and what we teach. Students today need to think beyond the book. We must create work-based learning opportunities that guide students to understand environmental problems and teach them to think critically and creatively about solutions they can act upon. I challenge high schools, colleges, and universities to help their students apply their knowledge to experiences, and build meaningful career pathways. Let’s harness the potential of this emerging generation of environmental leaders by redefining what it means to work in this field.
Climate Corps Bay Area
For the past 4 years, SEI has been implementing an innovative workforce development program. Designed along the AmeriCorps model, Climate Corps Bay Area
(CCBA) is a 10-month Fellowship program that places recent college graduates with local governments, non-profits, and for-profit partners to implement climate change resiliency projects. Through CCBA, we simultaneously help communities tackle climate change and cultivate the next generation of environmental leaders.
For example, Sam Bliss joined Climate Corps Bay Area from Western Washington University where he graduated in 2013 with a degree in economics and environmental studies. He is supporting Alameda County Sustainability to implement its climate action plan for government operations in order to meet medium- and long-term emission-reduction goals. “I love the opportunity to hold a short-term position that allows for project ownership and the ability to see work through from start to finish,” says Sam. Sam’s career goal is to be an economist so he can contribute to developing of an economic model that focuses on creating the capabilities for human flourishing within ecological limits.
Alameda County, like our other Program Partners, value Climate Corps Bay Area because they receive the support of qualified passionate dedicated Fellows like Sam to implement their programs. Sam and the other 24 Fellows get to participate in a comprehensive training program and have the opportunity to spend their term learning cutting edge, and valuable skills while helping Bay Area communities with climate change resiliency.
Because of this powerful matchup of need and opportunity, CCBA is well on its way to completing a 4th successful year. For the coming cycle we're excited to announce that SunPower
has committed to hosing multiple fellowship positions! This year CCBA Fellows will provide close to 50,000 hours of support to community climate projects, and anticipate that 8 out of 10 of our Fellows will obtain a job or pursue graduate education in a sustainability field. SEI is extremely proud of the work our Fellows and Partners are accomplishing and excited to grow this program. CCBA is hoping to expand to other regions of California and beyond in the future cycles.
For more information about the program and becoming a parter or Fellow click here
. To register for the July 24 Symposium, click here
MarinSEL LEAD Projects
The China Camp Group
SEI helps students at the Marin School of Environmental Leadership (MarinSEL)
develop semester-long Leadership and Environmental Action Development (LEAD) Projects. Thanks to the support of numerous community partners and parent volunteers, these projects have become a highlight of the MarinSEL program. This spring’s 9th
grade China Camp State Park group is an exceptional example of the obstacles and solutions MarinSEL students encounter.
LEAD Projects are hard work. They embrace the messiness and unpredictable nature of project-based learning. Once each team of six students is assembled, they take a loosely defined project description and decide on six individual research topics to explore and write a research paper about, using this knowledge to create a project proposal to be implemented. The China Camp group was given the vision of preparing and giving three weekend campfire talks to overnight campers at the park as well as design and pursue the approval for a mural for the park’s planned outdoor classroom. They took this project and divided into three groups to tackle their proposed goals.
Once the students were given the go-ahead to implement their project proposal, they worked to plan a visit to the Park with their community partner and parent volunteer. Almost every MarinSEL group faces a hurdle with communication and this group was no exception. The date for their visit had to be postponed and the students gathered to solve their lack of communication. By committing to respond to emails and group texts, the China Camp project took off.
Each group of two students research, planned and prepare a campfire talk. They covered the topics of mountain biking, owls and the history of the China Camp shrimping village. Combined, the students reach 150 campers and far exceeded their goals for engagement and learning. Two students even faced every possible technological problem the night of their presentation but overcame it by giving an inspiring and engaging presentation that led to them being invited back for the Park’s Heritage Day.
As for their mural, the China Camp group was informed early on that the chances of a mural being approved and implemented at the park were low, at best. Because the prospect of designing a mural was part of what attracted the students to the project originally, they didn’t want to give up that easily. After completing their campfire presentations the students worked to develop a concept and presented it to their principal, seeking approval for a mural at their high school. By working collaboratively to solve issues related to communication and the mural design, the China Camp group achieved quantifiable results and made a lasting impact in their local and school community.
Meet Our Community
Energize Schools Unique Partnership
This year SEI formed Energize Schools, a unique collaborative between 4 mission-driven non-profits that provides coordinated services to reduce school energy use through both efficiency and conservation. With a holistic approach to energy management, Energize Schools helps districts plan for wise use of the state’s 5-year, $2.5 billion Proposition 39 investment in energy efficiency (EE) upgrades for schools. We work with districts to both invest in school EE and renewable energy projects, while also enhancing student learning by providing project-based curriculum, teacher training, direct instruction, and conservation support that utilizes schools as a learning laboratory for clean energy career skills development.
The team forming the collaborative brings together an exceptionally rich history of work with schools and similar entities on energy and resource efficiency:
- SEI has over 17 years of experience working with schools and school districts to reduce environmental impact and operating costs while engaging students in project-based energy education. We have worked with over 10,000 students in over 200 schools, providing support to schools on student-conducted energy audits, Green School Leadership Team development, energy conservation initiatives, energy efficiency retrofitting, and renewable energy systems.
- Ecology Action: 43-year-old nonprofit CPUC-Certified WBE specializing n serving small and medium entities including dozens of schools with start to finish technical retrofit services. Ecology Action has implemented energy efficiency and pollution prevention programs in more 150 schools during the last two decades.
- PECI: A 501(c)(3) nonprofit with over 3 decades of experience in the energy efficiency space, bringing engineering expertise and experience; combining a deep understanding of building science and systems with significant hands-on experience with residential, commercial, and public buildings of various sizes. PECI’s areas of expertise include building auditing, project opportunity identification, design review, modeling, measurement and verification (M&V) planning, and project support. PECI’s commercial programs achieved close to 200 million kWh of energy savings in 2012 alone.
- Bay Area Climate Collaborative: The BACC leads region-wide cross-sector partnership initiatives to advance clean energy. Energize Schools builds on the BACC's experience with initiatives including $5M EV Fleet project with 11 agencies, the Next Generation Streetlight Initiative with the UCD California Lighting Technology Center (catalyzing upgrade of 200,000 streetlights) and its regional action plan, www.BridgeToCleanEconomy.org, detailing plans for emissions reductions of 5 million+ MMtCO2e over 10 years. Executive Director Rafael Reyes is former Program Director of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment and had a major leadership role in the Sierra Club's Cool Cities program supporting the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.
Climate Corps Bay Area is recruiting!
There's still time to join as a Fellow or Program Partner! If you or someone you know wants an amazing professional development experience, think about becoming a CCBA Fellow. Check our the details on the Fellows section of the CCBA website
. If your organization, could use help with climate change initiatives, we have a great group of applicants who want to support your efforts. Check out the details on the Program Partner section of the CCBA website
We're Seeking Volunteers!
SEI is seeking volunteers to support our work in each of our primary focus areas: Eco-Smart Education, Green Housing, and Sustainable Communities. This is a part-time, unpaid position, based out of our San Rafael, Marin County Office. For more information and to apply, click here