By Cara Cooper, KSEC State Organizer
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me that renewable energy is great, but it just doesn’t work in Kentucky. What a joke. We know it does work and is already putting people to work all across the Commonwealth (just check out some of the awesome solar installations through this interactive map).
Caption: Renewable Energy is already working in all regions of the state. From left to right: KSEC members educating Senator Reggie Thomas about renewables in Murray, KY, Solar panels at the KY National Guard in Frankfort during a KSEC Energy Future Tour, Solar panels recently installed at the KY Coal Mining Museum in Benham, KY (see these at our Solution Spotlight event on June 10th)
For me, investing in growing the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors seems like plain ol’ good sense. Kentucky has a rich history of being an energy leader and providing electricity to power our country. As the coal industry dies we can continue to be energy leaders by making the transition to cleaner sources like solar, wind and micro-scale hydroelectric.
Not only can this emerging industry help to protect our natural resources, communities’ health and lessen the impacts of climate change but it can also create thousands of good jobs that our state needs. (According to a study done several years ago, with a number as low as 12.5% of our electricity coming from renewables we could create 28,000 net new jobs!).
If you are a young person, wondering how you will stay in Kentucky after graduation and find meaningful employment, or someone who’s family has been a part of the energy industry here for generations, renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs could be a good place for you and something you could feel good about doing.
Join us for our 2nd Solution Spotlight event (as a part of our ongoing Solutions Tour) to meet folks who are already hard at work building this emerging industry in Eastern Kentucky and learn more about what it’s like to work in the new energy sector and what it takes to get a job doing this work.
By Dakota Burnett, Alice Lloyd College Green Team
During my freshman year of college, I began to become interested in the environment. However, I had no clue where to begin to actively participate in protecting and preserving it. I thought I struck gold when I found out my college, Alice Lloyd, had an environmental club. I was super excited and went to the first few meetings until I realized it wasn’t going to be as grand as I hoped. The people were amazing and there was so much potential, but I think everyone was just too swamped with classes and other clubs to try to do things. Needless to say, I stopped going. The next year came and I figured I would give the club another shot, but it was still hard for us to get a project going. At this point, I was frustrated and out of ideas as to how I could do anything. I just sat around feeling guilty for my sins until nearly the end of that semester, and then something happened.
A couple days before the semester ended, I was talking to the environmental club president and accidentally took on the responsibility of their job for the next semester. I am literally one of the last people I would delegate the position of president to. I spent winter break thinking about what I could do to reinvigorate the club. Time went by and by the start of the semester I still had no clue what I was going to do. That is, until I met a few people interested in helping essentially reform the club. We started with the basics and created positions for everyone to take responsibility for and everything was off to a fantastic start. There was a professor that served as the advisor to the club that helped immensely, as well. At the highest point during the semester we reached around 9 members, with the average being around 5. That may sound like a tiny amount, but when you consider the fact that it is a conservative private college with the mindset of “coal is life,” that small number almost felt like it was in the triple digits.
So, the first order of business for the rebuilt club was to brainstorm ways to make campus more environmentally sustainable. We came up with awesome ideas, and I wish we had done them all. But the sad truth is that people just got too busy like they had in the past and we failed to bring all of those ideas to life, except for one. I promised to myself and the club that we would create a recycling program on our campus. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy because I felt that virtually no one outside of our little group cared, but we began to try anyway. I started writing a proposal that was going to be handed directly to one of the deans. Now, this was only a few pages long but I had to work on it for months because we ran into so many obstacles. Where could we store the recyclable materials? Where can we even take them? How are we going to get them there? Eventually we found a company nearby that would take the recyclables for free. They even agreed to let us use one of their trailers to store and haul the stuff in. We then had to find someone to haul the trailer, which we did. Awesome, we were done, right?
I certainly wish that was where it ended. We still had to figure out how to write a proposal in such a way to get the administration to agree to the program. Private, conservative colleges work very different than public ones, so that was one of the worst parts to deal with. We did the best we could to make sure nothing was written that could be construed as being partisan and just crossed our fingers. After proofreading several times, I finally printed it off and took it to the dean’s office and left it for him to consider. We waited for two weeks and become disheartened and figured it was just tossed in the garbage. Finally, one day after class I received a phone call saying that what we proposed was a great idea and was accepted. Fantastic! We were finally, truly done! Just kidding, a curveball was tossed into our plans and the man that was going to haul the trailer for us had to put his truck in the shop so we had to find someone new to do so. I thought all was lost until the very last week of school. A member of the club spoke to the maintenance department of the college and they agreed to go get the trailer and bring it to campus to get things rolling. He also talked with the recycling company and got them to agree to haul the trailer once the program starts. So, after months of work we did it.
There is going to have to be a short educational campaign before the final touches are added and I have to leave it all up to next year’s club because I’m transferring schools. However, this was only possible because of everyone’s help and I can leave knowing that they will far surpass my expectations in the time to come. This may seem like a trivial victory to a lot of people, but I feel like we got a bill passed in Congress or something. I sincerely thank everyone involved.
By Destine Grigsby, duPont Manual High School
The Eastern Kentucky University Office of Sustainability hosted an Earth week celebration. On the 20th, EKU hosted a picnic and ceremony at Elmwood park, with guest speakers and even activities like tree climbing. On the 21st, they hosted a tree planting at Taylor Fork Ecological Area. Their biggest event was on April 26th when they hosted an Earth Day festival at Powell Plaza with live local music and free heirloom tomato seedlings. Over a dozen environmental organizations were showcased at the festival including the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, Lucky Clover Farms, EKU Green Crew, and EKU Agriculture. The festival had a range of sustainable activities including a cardboard fort building event and a rain barrel workshop hosted by Bluegrass Greensource. Following the workshop, volunteers built 10 rain barrels, which will be placed around campus and used to collect rain for watering campus gardens. There was a cardboard fort building event that highlighted recycling.
At duPont Manual High School, one student group hosted a booth at ThunderBlast, an event hosted by the Kentucky Science Center during Thunder Over Louisville that ironically occurred on Earth Day. The purpose of ThunderBlast is to give families a safe environment to not only watch the fireworks and air shows, but also learn about science. DuPont Manual’s World Wildlife Club hosted an activity booth that educated children on the effects that oil spills have on marine life. Despite poor weather, ThunderBlast still had a great turnout and Manual was able to teach over 3,000 kids about oil spills!
The Young Kentuckian is a blog of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition where youth share their work and ideas for Kentucky's bright future.
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