In April, SEI’s Marin School of Environmental Leadership (MarinSEL) hosted its annual Green Business Leaders Event: Collaboration in Action at Terra Linda High School. The event brought together local environmental and green business leaders, as well as, teachers, friends, and families to highlight the innovative sustainability work of the MarinSEL students; and to showcase the eight student-led sustainable businesses they created.
As part of the School of Environmental Leadership (SEL), 11th grade students are given the opportunity to develop and implement sustainable businesses from start to finish through the Sustainable Enterprise Course, which qualifies for college credits. Throughout the course, students create business plans for a sustainable enterprise, which they then pitch to a panel of mock investors who select the top eight ideas to be implemented. Then, using their collaboration and project management skills, students work in groups to create and carry out an implementation plan for their sustainable businesses. The product of their dedication and hard work is showcased at the annual Green Business Leaders Event. The end-of-program event also provides the opportunity for students to network with established green business leaders and innovators within the sustainability field.
Sophia Smulewitz from Free Spirit Suds: Clean Earth, Clean Body presenting their product to attendees.
By Alexis Fineman
For the past several months, seniors at LaFayette High School in LaFayette, Alabama have been learning about energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy sources as part of the 2022 PowerUp! Energy Challenge. In partnership with SOLV Energy and Heart of America, SEI facilitated a series of weekly educational challenges to get students “powered up” about energy in their lives and communities while also introducing students to the solar job market.
The Challenge was launched in February with a kick-off assembly featuring alumni guest speakers Dr. Travis Smith with Unite HBCU, who builds pathways for high school students into HBCUs and from HBCUS into the workforce, and Devon Mackey, a solar project manager with SOLV Energy. It culminated in a multi-week Campaign Challenge. Through the Campaign Challenge, students created educational posters and graphic designs to promote conservation and efficiency measures in their communities. Campaign judges included the Chambers County School Board president Jeffrey Finch, LaFayette mayor Kenneth Vines, Chamber of Commerce director Carrie Royster, and Taylor Teel, the director of Camp Marranook.
First place winner ShaKerya Gunn receives a prize (left) for her Energy Challenge submission (right)
Over 30 students in LaFayette’s senior class participated, and throughout the Challenge, these students experienced the support and encouragement of their communities. Students dove deep into topics of energy, resiliency, and sustainability; explored solar careers; and were asked to consider how they themselves could be agents of change on a warming planet. Of the 30 participants, SEI awarded 12 finalists SEI’s Energy Specialist Certificate. The first, second, and third place winners received scholarship awards of $1500, $1000, and $500 respectively, as well as an array of Goal Zero solar products.
By Hannah Maryanski
Summer is approaching, and if you are in high school or early in your college career, you might be thinking about starting your green career search over the break. Congratulations on taking the first steps! Here are 4 tips for finding a career in the environmental space.
Identify your interests
Environmental educator, renewable energy engineer, construction worker, community organizer, sustainability specialist—these can all be green jobs, and they’re all really different. It can be hard to know where to start when the field is so broad. Try narrowing in on a few areas that interest you. The SEI Green Careers Webinars Series can help by providing knowledge directly from sustainability professionals about their day-to-day work and career paths.
Labor market research from tools like California Career Zone can also help. Labor market information gives you general characteristics about jobs, like the type of education required. It can also show you what jobs are expected to pay well or be in high demand.
If you are interested in a career that doesn’t show up in your green jobs search, don’t worry! Let your creativity shine as you think of new ways to bring sustainability into any career path.
Fall 2021 Garden Magic Photo Album
By Dru Marion
This fall, after a year of remote learning, SEI's Climate Corps Education Outside Fellows worked to rehabilitate the campus gardens at their schools and bring students back outside for garden class. Thanks to our cohort of twenty-nine incredible Fellows, thousands of students are once again getting the opportunity to engage with inquiry-based, hands-on science and ecoliteracy lessons during the regular school day and directly on their own school campuses. We hope you enjoy these snapshots joy, growth and (re)discovery in the school garden classroom:
Climate Corps Expands to Oregon
By Katrina Hagedorn
Image by Trang Nguyen
Climate change is not just an individual issue, state problem, or national concern. It is one of the greatest challenges the world has ever faced.
The current workforce is not ready to undertake the challenge of transitioning to a clean economy. Additionally, marginalized communities are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. Given both of these issues, SEI aims to strengthen leaders across communities and integrate environmental justice, equity, community engagement, and collaboration into all of its programs. Our Climate Corps program has been doing this work in collaboration with communities across California for over a decade. We are excited to announce that we have been expanding Climate Corps into new areas to help drive a national workforce transformation! One such area is the Pacific Northwest, including the state of Oregon.
Within Oregon, a diverse group of organizations has partnered to develop the ‘Oregon Climate Equity Project,’ which will broaden the climate movement in the state and strengthen BIPOC leadership in climate policy, advocacy, and development. In the Project, five Climate Corps Fellows focused on climate justice within BIPOC communities will be placed with nonprofit organizations and public agencies serving Oregon. Our partners on this project include Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI), Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Climate Solutions, Coalition of Communities of Color (CCC), Earth Advantage, Forth, the Oregon Environmental Council, and Verde.
What does a resilient world look like to you?
To quote Aldo Leopold, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” While written decades ago during a very different time on Earth, Leopold’s words guide my thinking about what a resilient world looks like - A world that has human-designed systems that support the needs of both people and the planet. A world with systems that are centered on equity. A world with systems that are powered by renewable energy, have zero waste, and build strength and resilience from diversity. As the people lucky enough to be alive during this pivotal time in history, we have the opportunity to reimagine those systems to ensure that we are resilient in the face of a changing planet.
When and how did you know you wanted to pursue a job in the environmental sphere?
I’ve wanted to work in this field since early childhood - in large part due to informal science programs like CCEO. For a long time I thought I would be a scientist, specifically a marine biologist, but then in the first year of undergrad I took a class called “Experiential Education in the Outdoors''. I remember unspooling string for young people to weave webs of life around ancient trees and feeling a sense of deep alignment. I think in The Secret Garden Frances Hodgsen Burnett refers to it as “The BIG GOOD THING.” While the field of environmental education requires a ton of shapeshifting, this feeling has remained central to my practice. It powers my commitments to kinship, celebration, and dismantling patterns which isolate people from their inherent worth and belonging. There is so much potential within the environmental sphere for communal and personal liberation -- I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.
California University Faculty Create Climate Change Resilience Content To Prepare Students For A Changing World
Energize Colleges, a program of SEI, an environmental education and workforce organization, is supporting the February 2022 launch of a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) across the 23 campus California State University (CSU) system. The FLC will facilitate integrating climate change and resilience content across the breadth of disciplines offered at the CSU campuses. This initiative is designed to offer faculty practical tools, resources, and ideas to integrate key concepts related to climate change and climate change resilience into student learning outcomes.
The FLC arose from Chico State’s Office of Faculty Development and the Campus Sustainability Curriculum Subcommittee’s actions to meet their President’s Strategic Priority for Resilient and Sustainable Systems. Dr. Mark Stemen, Chico State professor of Geography and Planning, will be the FLC Facilitator. Professor Stemen has hosted over a dozen faculty development workshops on integrating sustainability in the college curriculum as part of the annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference.
Since 2016, SEI’s Energize Colleges program has supported California higher education institutions to advance sustainability education, applied learning and career exploration with students. A dedicated Climate Corps Energize Colleges Fellow will support the CSU Chancellor’s Office in coordinating the statewide FLC initiatives through close collaboration with key faculty, department chairs, and deans across participating campuses.
By Nia Jones and Sean Youra
After a difficult school year of adjusting to learning virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marin School of Environmental Leadership (MarinSEL) students finally got a chance to engage with one another this summer in some hands-on learning prior to the start of the new school year.
MarinSEL students were reunited during the summer retreat
Fresno State's Beth Weinman on Creating Real Sustainability Projects in Higher Education
By Katrina Hagedorn
Image by David Prasad via Flickr
“This is a time of change…I think everywhere... uncertainty and change.” - Beth Weinman
Dr. Beth Weinman, faculty member in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Fresno State, knows how much the world is changing and how much need there is to build a sustainable workforce in order to address the shift towards greener infrastructure. She believes that in higher education this change can be navigated by strategically bringing together people across the university - administration, faculty, facilities and students - to see what can be done better.
Through SEI’s Energize Colleges program, Beth fosters collaborative relationships to institute the campus as a living lab model and provide sustainability-focused internships to university students at Fresno State. These internships are a part of a high impact practice for since students who participate in internships and other hands-on extracurricular engagement tend to perform better post-graduation. Beth believes that the Energize Colleges internships empower students to help the university, and provide something that the classroom cannot.
The SEI Team
Environmental education and workforce development experts share stories from the field