by Kenyon Larsen, Environmental Consultant, SRA International
MobilizeGreen is revolutionary.
It is connecting a diverse youth demographic that is very underrepresented in environmental work to green careers and future leadership.
My name is Kenyon Larsen and I manage SRA’s work with MobilizeGreen as well as instruct and facilitate at the intern-training course. It is projects like this that make me love my job.
MobilizeGreen is one of those sparks destined to catch fire and turn into something much larger.
The relative scarcity of diverse, urban graduates considering career opportunities in the rapidly growing Green sector of our economy is alarming. That scarcity needs to change!
With a green sector of the economy that is growing so rapidly, missing out on that expansion would be a horrible. MobilizeGreen is inspiring that segment of the population to look for and succeed at getting these green jobs, and to understand that they can turn regular everyday jobs into green jobs that are often better paying. Every young adult is looking for a job where they can make some bucks!
The biggest barrier to diverse populations engaging in environmental training and work is awareness. Most students attending the first MobilizeGreen training, Sustainability and Professionalism in the Workplace, would have never considered a job in a green industry because they were unaware of its existence.
MobilizeGreen introduces the students to real people with green careers that they can relate to and who inspire them with lucrative job opportunities.
Many academically talented diverse college students, for example, don’t even consider engineering out of ignorance of the benefits an engineering degree can offer. Besides lots of choices for doing different things, including environmental work, engineers are historically among the most highly employed, even in times of economic downturn.
Construction work is a huge driver in our economy and is one of the few places where high school graduates can find jobs. What they don’t realize is they can take these same skills and move toward a greener economy, installing weatherproofing or solar panels among other energy efficient options, and boost their earning power.
MobilizeGreen directly addresses the barrier of lack of awareness and encourages environmental improvement as a mindset.
Aligning diverse, urban college students with Green jobs and environmental concerns benefits both a career-starved demographic and the Green industry as well. Meg Matt, CEO of Association of Energy Services Professionals spoke about one conclusion from a recent survey of their members: “Energy efficiency is a rapidly growing segment of the overall energy industry and we believe there is a clear lack of talent that is necessary to fill the positions that are open.” *
At SRA, I manage a group of about 50 scientists, environmental policy analysts, engineers and facilitators who provide expertise to our government and nonprofit clients involving land and water sustainability and facilitation. Most of these folks have been involved with the environment for decades. They have tremendous experience living green and working in green careers. But when I look around at my colleagues, they do not represent the mosaic of our country and our population.
I’d like to know that 20 years from now, when my children are having their careers, the environmental workplace will be more inclusive, will represent a much more diverse set of individuals.
Right now, I hope that through MobilizeGreen I can reach the minds of a few eager college students and encourage them to study science or engineering or environmental policy, knowing that it is a REAL career to be proud of.
*Where to find Jobs in Energy Efficiency, by By Elisa Wood, July 13, 2011