At the start of the new high school semester in January, Yolo Energy Watch commenced its new internship program, Young Energy Leaders. The six current high school interns are collaborating with various businesses to reduce energy use and increase awareness, and visibility in energy efficiency.
Yolo Energy Watch is a nonprofit partnership with Yolo County, the California Public Utilities Commission and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The organization’s goals are to achieve energy savings in the county, assist businesses in participating with available energy efficiency programs and create a culture of energy efficiency.
Program manager for Young Energy Leaders Bryan Pon said the internship program’s mission is to mainly help people recognize the benefits of sustainable energy.
“[The interns] have been going through training on energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon emissions and general sustainability,” Pon said. “Each intern will work on different projects with community partners.”
Young Energy Leaders has partnered up with Yolo County Housing, UC Davis, Woodland Library and the Cool Davis Initiative.
“We’re working with Yolo County Housing to help them create a youth-based energy corps on the properties,” Pon said. “We’re working with the Woodland Library on energy education and outreach and with UC Davis, helping their utilities group to analyze energy consumption to look for potential optimization.”
Pon said there was an application process with Woodland High School and Da Vinci High School. After holding informational sessions, students were interviewed and selected accordingly.
“For this year, we will keep [the number of interns] at six,” Pon said. “We want to keep this size small for it to be more manageable.”
Two interns are from Woodland High School and four are from Da Vinci High School. The students work with their local organizations.
Anthony Berardi, a senior at Da Vinci High School, said working with the Young Energy Leaders program has been fun so far.
“I have had a great experience with the Young Energy Leaders, working with Bryan and the other interns to create a presentation for the community where we talked to them about how to use a watt meter,” Berardi said in an e-mail. “This, however, is the first project that we worked on with the program and we will continue to work with Yolo Energy Watch and other companies in the future.”
Fellow intern Mariah Freitas, a junior at Woodland High School, is working with Yolo County Housing.
“The project is to help Yolo County Housing create a youth program,” Freitas said in an e-mail. “It will show youth residents hands-on data at [a] variety of properties.”
The program is partnered with the Yolo County Regional Occupational Program. There is an official class the students take to receive high school credit. Pon said they are also exploring whether the students can also receive college units.
As a registered course, the students are required to spend at least five hours a week working on a specific project. The internship will continue until the end of the academic year.
“We’re working on a wide variety of projects,” Pon said. “Some are more defined and others are of a more exploratory nature.”
According to Pon, some projects may last for a month and others may last up to three months. He said the students will work on a project until it’s completed.
“The community organizations are our clients and we work with them on specific project engagements,” Pon said. “I think community partners are excited about it because it’s a great way to collaborate and build our network with like-minded organizations working for a common cause.”
Pon said he designed the internship to allow students to have the opportunity to learn and practice meeting with clients, giving presentations and writing reports.
“What’s important to me about this program is they are learning professional skills and about energy and sustainability issues,” Pon said. “It’s all real world stuff that will better prepare them to enter the job market or get into college or university.”
CLAIRE TAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.