Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Green Job Wave

Riding the Green Job Wave
Environmental degrees meet growing demand for workers
By David Hirning
Paid environmental work used to mean getting a four-year science degree or joining a nonprofit and trying to raise awareness of issues such as rain forest destruction or endangered species.
But as issues such as climate change and ecosystem restoration enter the mainstream, so-called "green-collar" jobs -- and the training programs needed to land them -- are becoming more and more common.
One school that is capitalizing on this "green wave" is Cascadia Community College in Seattle. The school recently created a two-year program called Environmental Technologies and Sustainable Practices, which is specifically designed to prepare students for the growing environmental job market.
"We are responding to what employers want," says Bill Christopher, president of Cascadia. "This is not a fad -- if you look at the future, green jobs will replace a lot of the jobs that have come and gone in the United States."
These jobs range from the technical (installing solar panels) to the administrative (managing a company's plan to reduce energy costs). Cascadia students can choose their path: earn an administrative assistant degree and go straight to -- or return to -- the workforce, or transfer to a four-year program to pursue a bachelor's degree.
"The green job market will need both kinds of workers," says Sharon Buck, dean of student learning at the college. "Our program is designed to meet both demands."
A big part of Cascadia's program is placing students in internships and connecting them with people in the environmental field, paving the way to future employment. Programs range from 20 to 90 credits, and daytime, evening and online classes are all available.
Green alternatives
If you're already in the workforce and want to improve your skills or explore some of these new career alternatives, more directed training could be a good choice. Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Mass., offers five different environmental certificate programs targeted at returning students, including environmental site assessment, geographic information systems and coastal zone management.
There are also specific programs for fields such as clean energy technology, an area where the job market has boomed in the last couple years.
"The clean energy field is a great place to be right now," says Stephanie Brady, coordinator of the school's environmental technology program.
She notes that this field is becoming an important sector of the economy in Massachusetts, which passed the Green Communities Act of 2007 to promote renewable energy usage. "We get regular job postings for our students, even in this economy."
Advanced degrees in the environmental field are also becoming more valuable and prevalent. One of the best is the master's program at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., which has been around for more than two decades. Although it's not new, the program is suddenly drawing more interest from students who want to make a difference along with making a living.
"There's been a dramatic increase in public awareness over the last two years," says Ted Whitesell, the director of the Evergreen program. "The students are excited by what's going on, and we're seeing a lot more interest in our program for [the entering class of] 2009."
Whitesell adds that Evergreen is very accommodating of returning students, offering all of its courses at night or on weekends.

Wide variety of career options
The school also benefits from its proximity to the state government's home in Olympia. As cities and states begin to take on the challenge of building sustainable communities, green jobs are a natural outgrowth.
"The government is getting serious about climate change, but they don't know the next steps," Whitesell says. "When the city of Tumwater [Washington] signed the Kyoto Accord on global warming, the city manager didn't know what to do. We found a student for him, and after interning the student graduated right into a job with the city."
Annie Lindberg, a student in Evergreen's master's program, worked as a "sustainability" intern with Centralia Community College in Washington during the summer of 2008. Her work there involved analyzing the school's carbon footprint and making recommendations to administrators on how to reduce energy use and cut emissions.
Lindberg had previously taught marine science to young students, but now she's open to a wider range of jobs. “Evergreen allows you to look at the bigger picture," she says. "People with this degree are able to do all kinds of work, from nonprofits to government work to sustainable agriculture."
Like Cascadia, which did extensive watershed restoration around its campus when it was built in 2000, Evergreen not only talks the talk, it walks the walk. The school was recently ranked fifth in the nation in environmentally sustainable campus practices by the Sierra Club magazine. For example, Evergreen's campus has a large organic farm where students can put their learning to work while also putting food on the table.
Mainstreaming the green degree
As environmental awareness and education has gone mainstream, the bigger schools are taking notice. The Sierra Club "Cool Schools" survey noted that the debut of large public universities on its list "represents a dramatic shift even from last year."
The University of Florida, for example, ranked seventh overall in the report. Students there can major in environmental engineering sciences, but they can also opt to study a different discipline -- such as business or law -- while getting a minor in environmental studies, a program targeted at nonscience majors. The department offers a diverse range of classes, including "Biodiversity Conservation," "Ethics and Ecology," and "Environmental Economics and Resource Policy."
The fact is, many schools are scrambling to catch up to a green employment market that is constantly evolving and generating whole new job categories. David Blockstein, the director of an educational development program at the National Council for Science and the Environment, says that we don't even know what the green jobs of the future -- and the degrees needed to get them -- will look like.
"How do you develop the future climate-change solvers, the future environmental professionals that will be needed?" he says. "It's a time of turmoil -- jobs that didn't exist a couple years ago are suddenly available, which means that students already in school have to develop new skills on the fly."
Blockstein says that today's students can't just get an environmental degree and think they're done with school. "It's really about lifelong learning," he notes. "People in this field are going to have to regularly refresh their knowledge to take advantage of the new opportunities that are emerging."

About the Author
David Hirning is a freelance writer specializing in educational issues. He worked for 15 years as a journalist and as an editor for Encarta Encyclopedia.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rebuilding New Orleans Green


Global Green still needs your help to win up to $1.5 million to help rebuild New Orleans green - and it will only take a couple of clicks.
American Express' Members Project is giving away $2.5 million to deserving projects and we are in the Top 25! We need to be in the Top 5 by Sept 29th to win any funding - we are currently in 7th place and need at least a 1,000 more votes.
You must be an American Express cardholder to vote, and can do so by following these simple steps:
1. Click on this link to go to the project: Rebuilding New Orleans Green
2. Click on the VOTE FOR THIS PROJECT button below the photos
3. Use your American Express login to sign in, or create a login
4. Click the VOTE FOR THIS PROJECT button again
The funding will help Global Green build more green homes, green more schools, and create more green jobs for New Orleans' residents who have been so hard hit by Katrina and the recent hurricane activity in the Gulf.
Please pass this email on to your friends and colleagues, add to your facebook and myspace pages, and promote in any way you can. We need as many votes as possible!
We so appreciate your taking the time to vote for this worthwhile project and make a difference without even having to make a donation.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


During a shopping visit to WholeFoods with my family I was introduced to NOFA-NJ(Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey). Here is what I learned: Founded in 1985, the Northeast organic Farming Association of New Jersey(NOFA-NJ) serves as a catalyst for the development of a sustainable community-based food system. Their mission is to promote a healthy, viable food and agriculture system that helps protect and restore nature. They recognize the need of farmers to succeed economically while farming ecologically. Agriculture need not exist at the expense of the surrounding ecosystems. They actively work toward ensuring access to affordable and nutritious food for all.

They offer a variety of programs such as:
On Farm Education
Summer Sunday Farm Tours
Farm Marketing Programs
Farmer Chef Meetings
The annual Winter Conference for NJ/PA's Organic Farmers
Advocacy Work on behalf of Sustainable and Organic Farmers

Go to their site to Join and add your support! www.nofanj.org

Monday, September 15, 2008

Obama Biodiesel Plant tour

Aug. 29, 2008
Barack Obama Kicks Off Official Campaign with Biodiesel Plant TourPresidential Candidate Affirms Commitment to Energy Independence and Green Jobs with Acceptance Speech and Launching his Fall Campaign at Pennsylvania Biodiesel
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.– Last night, millions watched as Sen. Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for President. Today, one of his first stops as the official standard bearer of his party will be a tour of Pennsylvania Biodiesel, a plant located in Monaca, just outside Pittsburgh.
"America heard Sen. Obama's commitment to investment in biofuels and the opportunity for energy independence, a cleaner environment and good paying green jobs that our industry can deliver," said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, from the association's headquarters in Missouri. "We're pleased biodiesel will play a significant role in the presidential campaign discussion. A strategy for helping Americans end our reliance on foreign oil should be a bipartisan goal."
Pat Copple, president of Pennsylvania Biodiesel, said that it is an honor to have Obama visit the plant. "We're eager not only to show Sen. Obama how biodiesel is made, but how it is a sustainable part of our energy solution right now," he said. "We hope he leaves with a strong understanding of how important continued federal support is, including extension of the biodiesel tax incentive."
Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell and Sen. Robert Casey were also scheduled to attend. The state has taken a progressive approach in passing pro-biodiesel legislation. This year, Pennsylvania passed legislation to incentivize production, as well as a 2% mandate that takes effect one year after in-state production exceeds 40 million gallons.
"Sen. Obama made a wise choice to visit a Pennsylvania plant," said Ben Wootton, president of the Pennsylvania Biodiesel Producers Group. "Our state is on the cutting edge of producing the next wave of biofuels and encouraging Americans to make energy independence an achievable goal."
There are 171 biodiesel plants nationwide. Last year, the industry produced 500 million gallons of biodiesel. The NBB is the national trade association of the biodiesel industry and is the coordinating body for biodiesel research and development in the U.S. Its membership is comprised of biodiesel producers, state, national, and international feedstock and feedstock processor organizations, fuel marketers and distributors, and technology providers.
Site: http://nbb.grassroots.com/08Releases/ObamaPA/

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's time to weatherproof your home

Fall is upon us and it is time to start weatherproofing our homes. With the rising of fossil fuels, home energy cost are rising at records numbers. Preparation is key to potential energy savings. Don't think you are ready? Conduct a home energy audit and find out just how much energy and money you can save during the cold season. You can start with the obvious...cracks in doorways and windows. However there are many more sources of energy loss in our homes. Here are a few:

1. Electrical outlets
2. Switch plates
3. Window frames
4. Baseboards
5. Weather stripping around doors
6. Fireplace dampers
7. Attic hatches
8. Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners.

The sooner you start the more you will save and better off your family will be this upcoming season! I'm starting now!


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