Volunteer unites her passion with GRID's mission


July 13, 2018
People in hard hats smile on construction site in Nicaragua

With Solar Futures Toolkit games and activities planned and solar-powered gadgets in tow, GRID volunteer, Kari Burman, spent the day teaching children at the Denver School for International Studies about clean energy during Solar Education Week in April 2018. She spoke about how electricity makes the lights come on and ways that we can use the sun to produce it with groups of kindergartners, first- and second-graders. Lit by the glow of flashlights AKA “the sun,” Kari noticed the moment when the topics she was teaching finally clicked for her young audience. Students’ minds swelled with new information about clean energy and joy from playing with solar-powered calculators and toy cars that moved in the light, which brought a smile to Kari’s face because she was contributing to GRID’s mission by inspiring children in her community.

Children play with solar-powered toys using a flashlight to mimic the sun during Solar Education Week
Kari has a long history of plugging into different parts of GRID’s work that align with her career interests and personal passions; her involvement in our Solar Futures program as a skills-based volunteer is just her latest endeavor. She began volunteering with GRID in 2013 when she participated alongside her coworkers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on a sponsored workday install in Colorado. Next Kari fundraised money and traveled with the International Team in 2016 to install off-grid solar systems for nearly 20 families in El Pedregal. Nicaragua. She worked as an electrical engineer increasing access to reliable, clean energy in rural communities and found a volunteer opportunity to match.

“Kari’s commitment to the work we do was evident when she joined us for a project,” said Lauren Farwell, International Program Manager. “The humility and passion with which she engaged with community members speaks volumes about the type of person she is.”

Taking her involvement beyond the roof of a solar installation, this year Kari became a skills-based volunteer contributing to GRID’s mission by helping staff with special Solar Futures projects and planning events like the one at to the Denver School for International Studies educate young people about clean energy. She’s focused on inspiring the next generation of engineers in renewable energy, specifically young women, and thought GRID would be a great partner to do that with.

It is easy to feel like laying panels with GRID is the only way you can volunteer, but Kari is a prime example of skills-based volunteerism at our organization. Aligning her passions and admiration for GRID’s mission, she found a way to utilize her knowledge to increase our impact in her community by just asking how she could help us. If you have expertise you’d like to share with GRID, contact workforce and volunteerism staff in your region and let them know how you’d like to pitch in!