Since January 2014 I have been an Energy Fellow at the University of Rhode Island Outreach Center. This year I worked on the Sustainable Energy Outreach and Education Team, developing ways to teach the community outside of URI about energy topics such as efficiency, conservation, and renewables. We worked to serve as a teacher to the public and provide resources about energy to those who are not able to attend the university. We did this through a series of workshops available to Rhode Island residents where they could learn the “who, what, why, and how” of sustainable energy. These included a Home Energy School, a Renewable Energy School, and two residential efficiency workshops in South Kingstown and Warwick as part of the EPA Climate Showcase Communities grant.
We designed these educational programs by working backwards and first identifying outreach objectives. First, we wanted to provide people with research-based, factual knowledge about energy basics and what is happening on the federal, state, and individual levels. Most importantly, we hoped to facilitate a behavior change in Rhode Islanders to adopt sustainable energy habits, advocate for progressive energy policy, and be confident, informed energy decision makers. If successful, in the long run we will see a reduction in CO2 emissions and a diverse array of energy sources.
This fellowship has allowed me to grow professionally as well as personally. I have gained vast knowledge about the energy system and Rhode Island’s leadership in a sustainable energy future. I have also gained invaluable professional skills and a newfound confidence that has translated into my everyday life. Working in outreach and education has also inspired me to add a minor field of study to my major in Environmental Economics. In the spring I will begin my Public Relations minor in order to achieve the most effective means of communicating energy to the public.
I feel very strongly that the energy industry is where I would like to further my career. I enjoyed this internship so much that I reapplied to be a 2015 fellow, and was accepted as the Team Leader of Energy Education. This promotion will provide me with leadership skills, and more importantly allow my voice to be better heard in educating Rhode Islanders about sustainable energy behaviors.
By: Angela Tuoni
Environmental & Natural Resource Economics
Public Relations Minor
December 22nd, 2014