This week the Chippewa Cree Tribe, Stone Child College, and GRID Alternatives partnered to install six 3.5 kW solar PV systems on three duplexes in Box Elder, Montana. The initiative was funded by a grant from the Department of Energy to deploy renewable energy projects on American Indian Reservations.
A number of the students enjoyed participating on the project and learned about solar PV firsthand by applying many of their classroom skills to the rooftops in their own community.
Jesse Colliflower, Building Trades Instructor at Stone Child College thought the training was particularly useful for the students. "I think it's really good to bring GRID in to open the door for an opportunity to get a little bit of hands on training. Not only that, you get a lot of learning experience as well and a lot of my students learn through hands-on and repetition and it keeps them sharp and tuned up in the construction industry."
The installation also provided a double benefit by bringing many volunteers together in a unified effort to learn and serve the community.
"Right now, like the way our community is, and how we've had our ups and downs politically, financially, and economically, the training was very beneficial,” Colliflower added. “There's a time in everybody's life where you're going to have to put everyone's differences aside and come together and work together side by side and say 'hey I've been a part of that'."
The students, all volunteers, appreciated giving back to their community through the project. Second year Building Trades student and Vice President for Student Leadership, Vern Gardipee, stated,
"The experience has been fun, the learning and teamwork has been great, especially learning to put solar panels up to help benefit the Tribe in a good way to help save money."