Former Tribal Trainee Finds His Niche in Solar Construction

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January 28, 2019

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SolarCorps Construction Fellow Kanyon Martinez with Workforce  and Volunteer Manager Cindy Corrales
SolarCorps Construction Fellow Kanyon Martinez with Workforce and Volunteer Manager Cindy Corrales

GRID Alternatives creates a pathway for those interested in pursuing a career in solar through hands-on job training. GRID’s Tribal Program provides tribal nations across the U.S. access to clean, affordable solar power and solar jobs.

The Bishop Paiute Tribe is the fifth largest tribe in California, located just below the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains in Bishop, California (Inyo County). Kanyon Martinez is a tribal member who grew up in Bishop, California. Kanyon describes tribal life growing up as very different. He always had a desire to experience city life, so when an opportunity arose to spread his wings and pursue a job training opportunity with GRID Alternatives he jumped at it! “I first heard about GRID through my friend’s mom who worked for the tribe. She told me about a great opportunity to gain work experience through GRID,” said Kanyon.

Kanyon’s journey with GRID began by participating in GRID’s Solar Future’s program, which provides solar education and hands-on training to students K-14. After completing the Solar Future’s program, he was later selected for a three-month Bishop Paiute internship position with GRID. During his tenure as an intern, he had a chance to attend the First Annual California Tribal Energy Summit, at The Pechanga Tribe in Temecula, California, hosted by the California Public Utilities Commission. In addition to the Tribal Summit, Kanyon along with two of his fellow Bishop Paiute construction interns also had the opportunity to attend the SCAQMD’s 30th Annual Clean Air Awards with Workforce and Volunteer Manager Cindy Corrales. “It was a great experience, although I was really nervous,” expressed Kanyon. “It was exciting to be able to represent GRID on stage at this award ceremony.” He said that he gained a lot of experience through his internship position, but desires to continue with GRID and learn more.  

After his internship was complete, Kanyon applied for a SolarCorps Construction fellowship position, thanks to a federal grant from the Department of Energy in collaboration with Bishop Paiute and GRID Alternatives. Kanyon asserted, “As a job trainee, I gained a lot of knowledge but now as a SolarCorps Construction Fellow I am learning even more and look forward to continuing to learn valuable skills through GRID.”

Kanyon shared that despite having to overcome some of the challenges learning new tasks can present, he faces them head on by asking assistance from his team leaders and by always having a can-do attitude. “The advice I would give to someone considering a career in solar is to ask a lot of questions and always be open and willing to learn new things,” stated Kanyon.

Kanyon says that once he completes his 13-month fellowship with GRID, his desire is to continue working at GRID and plans to apply for a full-time position within the organization. If you are considering a career move in solar, or wish to receive hands-on job training, visit gridalternatives.org/get-training. Additionally, if you would like to support the great work that GRID is doing through our tribal programs, or to help someone like Kanyon pursue their solar career, consider making a donation.