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Students Learn to Be Green and Help Lemon Grove Become Greener

California Conservation Corps members got a chance to complete 116 hours of hands-on introduction to a variety of green jobs thanks in part to Cuycama College.

Cuyamaca College and the San Diego center of the California Conservation Corps teamed recently to foster an interest in “green careers” through a new Sustainable Green Building Pathway program.

The program, which was completed recently, provided 24 corps members, ages 18 to 25, the chance to complete 116 hours of hands-on introduction to a variety of green jobs, according to Cuyamaca officials.

The corps members also received a $200 stipend, personalized career counseling and three training certificates to enhance their resumes and boost their employability, officials said.

College president Mark J. Zacovic said the program is an example of the college’s progressive philosophy of preparing today’s workforce for tomorrow’s jobs.

“We’re ecstatic over the success of this pilot program, and we’re delighted to continue to offer this class with Workforce Innovations Partnership grant funds from the state,” Zacovic said.

Sustainable Green Building Pathway is a pilot program put together by the college’s Continuing Education and Workforce Training Division that partners with CCC’s San Diego center and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. The goal is to expose students with an interest in careers in environmental sciences. Students learned about green building retrofitting and performance, energy auditing, home-energy rating and solar photovoltaic installation.

The program culminated with the installation of solar panels on homes in Lemon Grove and East San Diego, college officials said.

Local business owners in the solar panel industry, a construction company safety director, and faculty from Cuyamaca College’s Environmental Health and Safety Technology program provided the training. The training program proved so successful, with nearly 100 percent completion, that a new CCC class is scheduled for early March, school officials said.

Molly Hughes, program manager for the college’s Workforce Innovations Partnership, also known as the Green Ventures Project, praised corps members for sticking with the pilot program through completion.

“The corps members worked their regular jobs helping protect our environment, then came to the college all day Fridays and Saturdays on their own time for three months to learn about sustainability,” she said.

Students also received personalized career counseling and three training certificates to enhance their resumes and boost their employability, officials said.

“We got a lot of information about water and solar energy – a lot of us as corps member didn’t have any background in that,” said student Nathaniel Christenson, 24, of San Diego. “I would love to get more training and it really opened my eyes to a bright future in green jobs. The class also helped me be more conservation-sensitive. Using the sun’s energy and harvesting rainwater – that kind of information is really good.”

CCC crew supervisor William Johnson said the San Diego center has had a relationship with Cuyamaca College going back about five years, partnering in other job-training initiatives.

“We’ve done weatherization of some low-income housing, and we thought, ‘why don’t we start a crew to install solar panels,’ ” he said.

“It was a really neat experience, working with people who had their own solar-thermal companies,” said Rafael Gilbert, 20, of San Ysidro. “It showed me another path to take. With more training and experience, I could get hired by companies. It’s a steppingstone – a guideline to get into a green career.”

For more information about the Green Ventures Project, go to www.cuyamaca.edu/greenventures/

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