Job Corps students from across the country are gaining a lasting knowledge of environmental principles from their experience with initiatives on center, opening up new opportunities to make an impact on their centers and in their communities.
Job Corps students are bringing their expertise into the community through partnerships with local businesses, colleges, and a variety of other organizations.
At the St. Louis Job Corps Center, students can use their experience with alternative energy resources to earn college credits through a partnership with Lincoln University of Missouri. Lincoln University's Outreach and Extension Center became involved with the St. Louis center's greenhouse project to combine efforts in promoting urban agricultural development. Students from the Facilities Maintenance, Carpentry, Welding, Painting, Cement Masonry, Culinary Arts, Retail Sales, and Material Handling career technical training areas all played a role in the greenhouse project, from construction to maintenance and production.
Students are learning how to work with recycled materials, carbonless energy production, and renewable resources. They are also learning about the benefits of decreasing reliance on outside sources of food by growing food locally. With demand for job applicants with urban agricultural knowledge and training growing in the region, Lincoln recognized the value that the greenhouse project provides for students. To supplement that training, Lincoln offers the students credits toward a two-year agricultural program at the university.
While some Job Corps students pursue higher-education opportunities, others get experience working with local contractors. Students from the Hubert H. Humphrey, Sacramento, and Exeter Job Corps Centers built relationships with contractors who were able to see the students' expertise firsthand on the jobsite.
"My students are getting the opportunity to work with painting contractors that will teach them the skills and get them the knowledge for future employment," said John Kaiser, Painting instructor at the Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corps Center.
The initiatives funded through ARRA have brought a new focus to Job Corps centers. The resulting center culture inspired some students to help ensure that energy-efficiency principles remain a top priority in daily center life. Student leaders have joined staff members at centers to organize committees charged with cultivating a center culture among their peers that focuses on efficiency.
The committee at the Guthrie Job Corps Center in Guthrie, Oklahoma, brings together all of the students and staff who are interested in making an impact on the environment. The committee meets regularly to share ideas and organize center initiatives that promote sustainability on center and in surrounding communities.
The Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center in Chicago, Illinois, created a special steering committee - the Believe It Or Not I Care (BIONIC) committee - to implement energy-saving programs with an aggressive goal of cutting usage by five percent. The committee exceeded its goal and cut energy usage on center by 7.81 percent.
Made up of various center leaders, including Student Government Association representatives, the committee meets biweekly to prioritize its green initiatives and share updates on its four areas of focus - paper reduction, energy conservation, recycling, and green education.
The BIONIC committee is a permanent fixture on the Paul Simon Chicago campus, according to center director Bryan Mason. "President Obama has made a commitment to energy conservation, and we completely support him," Mason said. "It's our job to be good stewards of our environment and to make the best of the resources we have."
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