Environmental experts say that when it comes to building a sustainable environmental and economic future, one of the more practical solutions is to look toward the green jobs sector, a career field that has the dual benefit of providing steady employment while also meeting future environmental challenges.
Such jobs, which are aimed at preserving or restoring environmental quality, will be the focus of discussion on Wednesday, July 21, from 1 to 4 p.m., when Delaware Sea Grant (DESG) will hold a DESG: Engage and Exchange Workshop focused on Green Careers: Working for a Sustainable Future. It is the second of DESG’s new Engage & Exchange series, which continues with the third event a week later — Oil Spills in the Delaware Estuary: What Happens Next?
Both workshops are free and open to the public, with a specific emphasis on educators. Registration is required. To register for either or both events, visit the DESG website at deseagrant.org/news-events.
In the Green Jobs workshop, participants will learn about green careers from professionals in the industry and will hear about the opportunities and challenges of green careers in Delaware.
David Christopher, a marine education specialist with DESG’s marine advisory service and one of the organizers of the event, said that a goal of the workshop is to explore what the green jobs sector will look like in the future, as well as to explore ways to prepare the next generation for opportunities in the green jobs field.
“Part of it is awareness and just knowing what these green jobs are,” said Christopher. “We want teachers and parents to know about these opportunities: How do we get knowledge of green jobs into the career and technical education? How do we get students aware of these green jobs? What green job internship and volunteer opportunities are out there?
“Although we’re focusing this workshop mainly on awareness of green jobs and the landscape of green jobs, there is this other piece in the future that will look at how we prepare people for these green jobs.”
Christopher pointed out that some of the competencies required for certain green jobs are not new and, in some cases, such as being an electrical technician, there will be crossover.
“You can be an electrical technician in a green job or in a non-green job,” said Christopher. “Some of the skills and competencies are the same, some might be different. So, although we’re focusing on awareness about this, we do want to talk about the skills and competencies to get those jobs as well.”
There are also careers in the green jobs sector that may not be so obvious. For instance, Jennifer Clemens, department chair of Energy Education at Delaware Technical Community College, will talk about her program that trains students on building automation and efficiency — an initiative that looks to make buildings and houses more energy-efficient.
“In building automation, you have people making money, you have companies spending less money on heating and cooling and you have a positive environmental impact in the form of less emissions,” said Christopher. “So it’s a win-win for everybody and is a great example of a green job.”
In addition, there’s interest in converting vehicles to electric, learning to grow food more sustainably, and a lot of green energy jobs focused on stormwater management and how to deal with stormwater runoff.
Christopher said that with an eye toward the future, DESG is hoping that this will be the first in a series of workshops focused on green jobs.
“We would love to do something in person once we’re opened up,” said Christopher. “Maybe then we could bring in company representatives and people could walk around and talk to people from various companies and talk about green jobs. I think this is the first in what we hope to be a series of green jobs workshops.”
On Wednesday, July 28 from 1 to 4 p.m., the third DESG Engage & Exchange Workshop will focus on “Oil Spills in the Delaware Estuary: What happens next?”
That workshop will be led by Chris Petrone, director of the DESG Marine Advisory Service, and look at how every day, more than a million gallons of crude oil move through Delaware Bay and River. The estuary has suffered numerous spills over the past 50 years, harming or killing wildlife, poisoning the water, and wreaking havoc on commerce, tourism and recreation.
DESG has convened experts in oil-spill response and impacts to help participants understand the dangers of moving the vital resource through the Delaware Estuary, and how to help in the event of future oil spills. While geared toward teachers, the workshop will benefit anyone interested in learning more about oil transport and the potential risks to humans and the environment.