WINTER HARBOR, Maine — More than 70 students and teachers from eight Maine island and coastal schools participated in the third annual Energy for ME Summer Institute held at the Schoodic Education and Research Center in Winter Harbor from July 29 to Aug. 2.
Energy for ME is an energy-education project for teachers and students in grades six-12 and their families, and community members, funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal is to increase students’ awareness of and interest in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
The Summer Institute brought together students, teachers, energy professionals and community members to participate in a five-day energy education retreat. Participants learned how they could apply their energy expertise and leadership skills to help make a difference in their homes and community buildings.
Professionals representing the energy industry also made special appearances during the week to engage students in exploring possible careers in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy. They included Hans Albee, of ReVision Energy, Jessie Davis of Evergreen Home Performance, Nate Johnson of Ocean Renewable Power Company and Keith Rose of Camden Hills Regional High School.
Darron Collins, president of College of the Atlantic (COA), was the keynote speaker on Monday afternoon. Using examples from his work at the World Wildlife Fund to save Siberian tigers as well as COA’s focus on human ecology, Collins challenged students and teachers to think about their energy efforts in a broad context and respond to differing priorities as they work to build a more sustainable energy future.
Suzanne MacDonald, energy director at the Island Institute, and co-principal investigator of the Energy for ME project along with Ruth Kermish-Allen, the organization’s education programs director, believes that the students’ increased data analysis proficiencies and their enhanced leadership skills will help them expand the message of energy conservation out into their communities.
“Over the past two years, E4ME students have done an incredible job of transforming the ways that their schools use energy. During the coming year, we’re eager to see them lend their enthusiasm, energy expertise and leadership to their communities in an effort to affect change on a larger scale,” she said in a press release.
The schools participating in this year’s Summer Institute included Camden Hills Regional High School, Elm Street School in East Machias, Islesboro Central School, Jonesport-Beals High School, North Haven Community School, Searsport District Middle School, Vinalhaven School, and Washington Academy.