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Students Experience "Green Collar" Jobs at Eastern

Written by Tim Talley

Green Collar Jobs at Eastern.JPG

Left to right, local High School students:   Enmanuel Almonte, Cruz Rodriguez, Kayla Fortier and Jason Diaz at work at the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University.


Willimantic, CT - On July 21, five local high school students joined the staff of the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern Connecticut State University to experience what is was like to have a green collar job. The project was a partnership between Eastern and Columbia, CT--based EastConn, one of the state's Regional Education Centers.

            The summer youth employment training program engaged five Windham residents-- juniors and seniors at Windham High School and Windham Technical School--who were selected due to their interest in careers in science and technology. The students were exposed to careers in sustainability and energy, which included an introduction to green collar jobs; taking a green campus tour of Eastern; and attending lectures on sustainability and Connecticut energy issues. 

The students learned to measure their ecological footprint; determine a building's efficiency using Energy Star Benchmarking software; and conduct an on-site energy audit. They also explored green collar job opportunities and took a Myers-Briggs test to help them compare their likes and dislikes to jobs in the market.

The ISE is a participating worksite provider for EastConn's Summer Youth Employment Training Program, which is administered through grant funding. Students received job skills, training, support and wages for their time. Prior to joining ISE, the students also completed workshops and classes at Three Rivers Community College in sustainability, work skills, lasers and holograms and other science-related topics.

Four students -- Cruz Rodriguez, Kayla Fortier, Jason Diaz, and Enmanuel Almonte -- continued to work at the institute through July and early August. They joined Eastern student interns at ISE and EastConn's Facility Manager Michael Akana to conduct an energy audit at EastConn's Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) high school in Willimantic. Data collected, along with energy bills from nine EastConn facilities, will be used to create a benchmarking report that will help EastConn better understand the relative energy efficiency of its buildings. ISE's students taught the EastConn students to use the Environmental Protection Agency's Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool, and shared their experiences on how ISE helps communities throughout Connecticut evaluate and manage their energy use.

U.S. Representative Joe Courtney joined the EastConn and Eastern students at EastConn's Hampton Conference Center, where the students explained how they collect data for benchmarking and conduct preliminary energy audits. They also gave a presentation on their experiences in green collar jobs at Eastern.


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