GRID IE kicked off the 2016-17 school year delivering solar education training to students at Bishop Paiute Tribe. Five tribal youths received hands-on experience while installing four rooftop photovoltaic (PV) solar systems for families on the Reservation. Their training was made possible through Solar Futures, GRID’s popular educational program that provides classroom and solar installation instruction with the goal of connecting young people to career pathways in the rapidly expanding solar industry and beyond.
The Bishop students recognized the connection when they toured two recently commissioned solar farms at the City’s Public Works Department. Students learned that employment opportunities are abundant in the solar industry. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), nearly 209,000 Americans work in solar and that number is expected to double by 2020. Leon Eddy, one of the Solar Futures participants, saw the growth potential. "GRID Alternatives and the Solar Futures program made me realize that a career in solar is possible,” he said. “Seeing my family members struggle in other job fields pushed me to give it a try.”
Another participant, Sabrina Stone, recognized the program’s positive community impact. The systems will save local families hundreds of dollars while significantly reducing air emissions from utility sources. “My experience with Solar Futures isn’t just about solar installation,” Sabrina said. “I will use what I learned in many different parts of my life. It will make me a stronger job candidate because it shows I learned something and gave back at the same time.”
The students were excited to learn about all aspects of solar, including topics such as marketing, outreach, field applications, and how to prepare for a job. One participant, Troy Watterson, saw the training as a way to enhance his own career path. “I hope to one day have a successful business career here in my community,” he said. “GRID’s Solar Futures program gave me the skills and experience I will need to help my tribal business become strong and successful.”
Five high schools in the Inland Empire currently participate in Solar Futures, with students seeking to be the next generation of leaders inspiring America to move forward with sustainable energy. For 2016-17, the program has expanded with curriculum now available for younger students. The newly created Solar Futures K-8 Toolkit contains resources for giving presentations to young students about solar and renewable energy, solar jobs, and energy conservation. These resources are designed to support anyone who wishes to visit a classroom and share their enthusiasm for renewable energy.
Is your school district participating in Solar Futures? Contact Cindy Corrales at firstname.lastname@example.org or 951.228.9381 for more information.