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OCC partners with energy education program on 'green' resource center for students

Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa has partnered with the Energize Colleges program to create a resource center for students interested in careers in sustainability and "green" energy.

The Energize Colleges program places a Climate Corps fellow on campus to serve as program coordinator and help spearhead climate and energy internships and education projects and help develop pathways to energy-related careers.

"The ultimate goal is to develop and support the state's future clean-energy workforce," said Stephen Miller, deputy director of the nonprofit Strategic Energy Innovations, which offers the Energize Colleges program. "We need trained and talented individuals, from technicians to lawmakers."

Funding for the program in its first year at OCC is being covered entirely by Energize Colleges, Miller said. By the second year, Energize Colleges will pay 50% of the funding required for paid interns and the campus fellow. By the third year, the average cost of $50,000 to maintain the fellow and paid interns will be funded entirely by Orange Coast College.

The program is designed to help colleges create lasting sustainability programs on campus, Miller said.

Miller met Mike Carey, OCC's environmental and sustainability coordinator, at a sustainability conference last year and the two agreed it would be beneficial to provide OCC students interested in green-energy careers with a resource center for internships and programs.

Carey said he also was intrigued with the concept of a recent graduate student hiring OCC paid interns to help with the resource center and carry out community projects.

Three weeks into the partnership, Tristian Trevino, program coordinator at OCC, is meeting with faculty members and students to discuss how to incorporate sustainability in curriculum and projects.

Trevino, a recent Arizona State University graduate, plans to recruit students interested in careers such as solar energy, building construction, and heating, cooling and ventilation. Eventually, Trevino said, he plans to reach out to local high schools for collaborative projects.

Carey said the resource center ultimately will be housed in OCC's new recycling center.

Orange Coast College is the second higher-education institution in Orange County to partner with Energize Colleges, after UC Irvine.

Students interested in an internship can find more information at energizecolleges.org/internships.html or by emailing Trevino at energizecollegesorangecoast@gmail.com.

priscella.vega@latimes.com

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