By Stacy Armstrong
An employment development program that has been piloted at Citrus College was recently presented at the world’s largest conference and exposition dedicated to green building.
The Developing Energy Efficiency Professionals (DEEP) program was presented at Greenbuild 2012, which was held in San Francisco November 14 through November 16. Designed to train and educate California community college students in the areas of energy efficiency and demand side reduction, DEEP was launched at three colleges in fall 2011: Citrus College, Mt. San Antonio College, and El Camino College.
Not only has the program’s innovative approach caught the interest of Greenbuild organizers; it was also recently recognized at the Green Community Colleges Summit in September. DEEP and its participating colleges received the 2012 Leadership Award for Curriculum.
“Receiving the Leadership Award for Curriculum means understanding environmental sustainability and climate change has traction,” said Dee Patel, DEEP program associate.
DEEP is a collaboration with the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, the Foundation for the California Community Colleges, and Southern California Edison. As part of the program, each participating college receives funding for forty hours per week to be distributed among four to six part-time DEEP student interns. In addition, each institution is given an operating budget to use to purchase project materials, conduct outreach campaigns, and promote on-campus events.
“Citrus College has been honored to pilot this unique program,” said Dr. Geraldine Perri, Superintendent/President of Citrus College. “The students who have been involved with DEEP have had exposure to the green workforce, as well as hands-on learning experiences that will be valuable to their future careers. The college has also benefitted from the program, which played an important role in the creation of our sustainability template and has assisted with the promotion of our green initiatives.”
Primarily student-driven, DEEP allows participants to teach others about energy and increase college-wide sustainability awareness. The students are guided by program coordinators, faculty, and administrative staff at each college. Together, they work to integrate new concepts of sustainability into existing classes.
“Citrus College houses the DEEP program within the environmental science area of our Natural and Physical Sciences Division,” Perri said. “The DEEP students have served as the link between college sustainability, academic infusion of sustainability concepts, and the green workforce.”
In addition to learning about sustainable lifestyles, DEEP students are also exposed to the benefits of transferring to four-year colleges, and they learn how their educational interests relate to professional careers in energy.
“This has been an amazing opportunity for Citrus College and its students,” said Mrs. Joanne Montgomery, president of the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees. “By serving as a pilot location for this ground-breaking program, Citrus College is once again helping to pave the way to a more sustainable future. Our hope is that the lessons learned during the early stage of implementation will greatly benefit our colleagues and that the program will serve as yet another step toward a greener California.”
Patel is confident the DEEP program will eventually be expanded to include other colleges.
“The idea is to take the DEEP Program to all 112 colleges in the California Community College System,” she said. “Some of the best minds can be found in the System, and they are seeking innovative solutions.”