By Christina Whalen
Energy use in our country is unsustainable and that’s a fact. Our extreme consumption of fossil fuels is contributing to global environmental and public health issues. PIRG Energy Service Corps, a joint program of the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and AmeriCorps, is working hard to simultaneously help people save energy, save the environment, and save money. The city of Claremont is fortunate to have the Energy Service Corps (ESC) program located here on the 5C campuses. The program has three different active campaigns: K-12 education, community education, and household energy efficiency. Interns and volunteers in the K-12 education campaign use lesson plans from the Department of Energy to educate local students about energy use and ways in which energy can be saved in their daily lives.
The K-12 education campaign has experienced great success this past semester in large part due to Pitzer junior Jess Ohlson’s hard work and dedication. When campus organizer Melanie Frank pitched the campaign in one of Jess’s classes, she was sold and made the commitment to be part of the Energy Service Corps.
“I believe that environmental education is one of the most important disciplines to be exposed to, especially at a young age,” Ohlson explained when asked why she chose this campaign over the other ones. “It is important for kids to have an understanding of the environment, and learn about the little things they can do in their everyday lives to make a positive impact on our environment.”
The hope is that through exposure to concerning energy and environmental issues, the youth will make conscious decisions about what they can do to conserve energy on a day-to-day basis. The K-12 energy education program is the first step in the right direction for a sustainable future according to Jess, and she believes it bridges the gap between people and their understanding of the environment and its impact on the world.
Though she will study abroad in next semester, Jess has high hopes for the future of the program. She has worked extremely hard to make positive connections with local elementary and middle schools and is excited to see these connections flourish.
“Many of the classrooms that we have taught really enjoyed the lessons and would love for us to come back and teach,” Ohlson said. “I’d love to see the [ESC] become a running program at elementary, middle, and high schools in the area.”
Jess has been such a successful leader of the K-12 education program and it will be hard to find someone to fill her shoes with such dedication and ambition.