Green 360

January’s WestEd board meeting centered on “Learning and Teaching in a Networked World.” During the board meeting we had the opportunity to attend two breakout sessions. I chose to attend a presentation by Laurie Maak, Senior Research Associate, Web-Based Communications. Her presentation’s title was Green 360, which is an “online community to cultivate the next generation of green workers by providing a career exploration experience to help high school and college-age students make informed choices as they build their pathway to the workforce.” Students who chose to take online courses can explore different green careers such as: Solar Installation Mechanic, Solar Energy Engineer, Wastewater Technician, and Environmental Director just to name a few.

Currently there are 490 students who are enrolled in Green 360. Also, students have access to 47 experts in the field of green careers. The experts are called Green Gurus and students are able to contact Gurus for career advice or to ask for project assistance in solving environmental issues. For example, Green Guru Saul Estrada is a green builder who was challenged to design a 12 office building for a client who did not have a budget to build a brand-new building. Using the concept of “reduce, reuse and recycle” Estrada reused 32 shipping containers stacked on top of each other to build 12 offices that included conference rooms, outdoor walkways, and staircases. With budget cuts and schools needing more rooms, an option to consider is to build additions to schools using shipping containers which drastically reduces building costs.

Another plus of the program is that WestEd has formed a partnership with Pacific Gas and Electricity of California, which furnishes Green Gurus and internships to students. During the breakout session WestEd mentioned that they would like to expand the Green 360 program. I asked since they already had the lesson content could they partner with another utility company. Their answer was “Yes!” My response was since we have three large utility companies in southern Arizona (Salt River Project, Tucson Gas and Electric, and Arizona Public Service) would it be possible for Green 360 to form a partnership with the Arizona utility companies and provide students with Green Gurus, internships, and opportunities to explore green careers and provide future green workers for state utility companies SRP, APS, and TG&E.

Laurie Maak, Senior Research Associate, indicated that Green 360 is interested in implementing the idea of forming partnerships with Arizona utility companies and providing work force education and training.

Laurie Maak can be contacted at: [email protected]


Manuel Chavez

Manuel Chavez

San Manuel, AZ

My name is Manuel Michael Chavez Jr. My greatest contribution to education is being able to relate my 20 years of work experience to my students, which I obtained while working for Magma/BHP Copper, one of the largest underground copper mines in the world. My intentions had been to work for Magma Copper Company for the summer and return to school the following fall to pursue my dream of becoming an educator. Twenty years later, I was still employed with Magma Copper and had held various underground mining positions with the last position being a heavy equipment mechanic. In 1999, the mine announced complete closure and I had been forced and given a second opportunity to pursue my dream. What a bittersweet life-changing event in my life. I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science degree in education from NAU and have been teaching for the Mammoth-San Manuel Unified School District in Southwest Arizona for nine years and am pursuing National Board Certification. In 2009, I was selected as an Ambassador for Excellence for the Arizona Educational Foundation and currently sit on the Board of Directors for Sun Life Family Health Care Clinics and the WestEd organization. It is my belief that by intertwining my classroom lessons with my own life experiences and providing my students real world life scenarios, students become engaged in the lessons and develop a desire to learn.

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