How are community colleges advancing greener careers and campuses?

from Wildlife Promise

The Greenforce Initiative, a partnership of National Wildlife Federation and Jobs for the Future, hosted a virtual summit last Friday, November 2 – Advancing Greener Careers and Campuses.

The summit hosted several sessions including an employer panel with John Bradburn from General Motors; tips for creating successful employer-college partnerships; the importance of linking climate change science to STEM careers; and a closing plenary featuring Tom Hooper from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Close to 150 community college leaders (faculty, staff, administrators & students) and other education and economic leaders joined us for the summit. 

Davidson County Community College, North Carolina

One of the most popular sessions was “Connecting Campus Sustainability to Green Career Pathways.” The session was facilitated by Julian Keniry, Sr. Director of Campus & Community at National Wildlife Federation. The featured speakers were Linda Chauncey from Seattle Central Community College, Holly Weir from Davidson County Community College in North Carolina, and Norman Christopher from Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Each speaker highlighted the ways each of their campuses is greening their operations and using those efforts to provide training opportunities for students. In Seattle, students are being taught by retired agriculture professionals – learning about where food comes from and how to grow sustainably; Seattle Central Community College is the first community college in the country to offer a food-focused sustainability program at a nearby farm. Norman Christopher from Grand Valley State University spotlighted the university’s green chemistry certificate  The certificate provides students with the knowledge of green, benign chemistry and its principles. “A Certificate in Green Chemistry provides a major advantage to an applicant on the job market in the area of chemistry and environmental sciences. Entry-level positions in the field, such as chemical analysis, testing, quality control, and technical service are expected to list knowledge of green chemistry is desired ” (www.gvsu.edu). Holly Weir from Davidson County Community College wrapped up the session by talking about the various disciplines that are integrating sustainability into the curriculum and providing hands-on training for students. Holly shared examples including creating a green home out of an old dilapidated home as a capstone projectand campus landscaping.

Materials and resources featured during the summit will soon be available at www.greenforceinitiative.org/summit.

The Greenforce Initiative is an effort to strengthen the capacity of community colleges to green the skills of the modern workforce.

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Special thanks to Sara Gassman, our NWF Campus Ecology Intern, for contributing to this post.