Community Colleges Offer “Green” Classes for Kids and Adults
Whether you’re heading to college for the first time or heading back to college for additional training, consider your local community college. Community colleges generally offer smaller class sizes and less-expensive tuition than universities or private colleges. And if you’re in the market to train for a green job or to make your home more sustainable, you’ll find a lot of options at many community colleges across the nation, as Brigette Fanning explains in this post. — Julia Wasson, Publisher
Teaching renewable energy at community colleges is nothing new, according to Carolyn Teich, senior program associate from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Such courses have actually been in community college curricula for about 30 years.
But there is also a wave of new courses designed for people who want to live more sustainably. For example, Kirkwood Community College — which primarily offers classes on its Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, campuses — launched a Go Green initiative this past fall in its Continuing Education department.
A team looks at trends in the market to develop new programs for the school, says Kim Johnson, the associate vice president of continuing education programming. Part of her job is to work with that team.
Programs are planned a year in advance, she says. About a year ago, the Kirkwood team discussed the increased emphasis on “green” — especially green jobs — because of the Obama administration’s support of renewable energy technology in the Stimulus package. She also felt the community had an increased interest in sustainability and saving money.
“The first wave of programs are from the consumer standpoint,” explains Johnson. Some of the classes offered in the winter term include “Greening Your Sofa or Chair,” “Heating Your Home With A Wood-Burning Boiler,” and “Exploring Green IT.”
Johnson says the Spring and Summer catalog will be released February 18. A new class offering, called “Green Federal Tax Tips,” will teach consumers how to qualify for tax credits and rebates for energy-efficient appliances, weatherizing, and so on.
This summer, Kirkwood Interactive Camps for Kids (KICK) will give kids an opportunity to explore different careers, including green jobs. There are also four energy camps called “Energy Busters,” “Catch the Wind,” “Rock the Green,” and “Fires and Wires.” In these classes, youngsters will have an opportunity to experience a variety of professions through entertaining activities.
“We’re certainly hoping [our green programming] will take off,” Johnson says. She points out that “Greening your Sofa or Chair” and “Remodeling the Green Way” have been popular classes since they were first offered this past fall.
Kirkwood tries to offer classes that have broad appeal to the community, according to Johnson. They’re now planning new classes about “green” occupational skills.
Most will be short classes, running from a single, four-hour class to classes that typically meet once a week for four weeks. Classes at Kirkwood range in price from $29 to $145. (“Greening Your Sofa or Chair” costs $145 to cover the cost of materials.) Continuing Education classes are normally offered after work hours or on Saturday.
The AACC’s Teich has broad knowledge of the country’s 1,100 community colleges, from the College of the Menominee Nation in Wisconsin to Maricopa Community Colleges in the Phoenix area. She points out that community colleges fill the need for additional job training.
“People who are electricians need an upgrade to work in sustainability,” says Teich. “Construction needs people that can build green buildings. Wind farms need turbine operators. And high-speed trains will need technicians.”
“I think it will be a natural part of the college experience that we won’t notice anymore,” says Teich. “It won’t be one course; it will be a part of all courses.”
Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)