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[ The People Behind the Green Economy: Part 2 ]

The People Behind the Green Economy: Part 2

Nothing gives a better sense of the growth of the green economy than the stories of the workers themselves. Part II of our series profiles people who work in conservation, renewable energy and green business. Their stories reflect the scope of the green jobs sector (catch part one here):

Stacey torigoe 2Name:
Stacey Torigoe

Mineral, CA

National Park Service Biological
Science Technician (Vegetation)


simple terms, describe what you do in your job.

I work with plants–big ones, little
ones, good ones, bad ones–in National Parks. Over four seasons with the Park
Service, I have pulled dandelions in Alaska, collected seeds in Hawai’i, helped
propagate some very rare geraniums and violets on Maui, and will be headed to
California this summer to work with burned areas and lichen surveys. A lot of
my job is invasive plant control–cutting, spraying, and pulling. Some of it is
rare plant work–nurturing seeds and seedlings in greenhouses, transplanting,
outplanting. All of it is immensely rewarding–helping an endangered species
get back on its feet, removing an invasive species from a beautiful place that
it could potentially destroy.

did you decide to pursue this career?

Hawai’i, where I grew up, is a
really tough place to be a native plant or animal right now–invasive species,
climate change, fires, floods, hurricanes and more–and I wanted to help heal
the ‘aina that had given me so much over the years. So I volunteered for a
summer with the Restoration Ecology Program at Hawai’i Volcanoes National
Park–collecting seeds, taking care of keiki plants, monitoring burned areas. I
learned a lot about my island, met some really cool people, loved it and felt
like I was making a difference in the world, and never looked back.

kind of training/experience do you need for this career?

A degree in biology or environmental
science is helpful. But on-the-job training is even more valuable, especially
in the Park Service.

Good writing and communication
skills are essential, and being able to work well with other people on a crew.
Skills like GPS navigation and mapping, GIS, plant ID, bird ID, weeding, using
equipment like chainsaws and chippers, camping, hiking, and organization are
all great things to have. Even the yard work you did growing up is a valuable

Getting an internship or
volunteering with a conservation organization for a season is a great way to
build job skills, your resume, and references.
Student Conservation Association
(SCA), and the National Park Service offer lots of great internship
opportunities in national parks and refuges throughout the year.

are the best resources for someone interested in this career?

Nature itself is your best resource
for getting into natural resources management–go outside and get to know
seasonal patterns, migrations, and the plants and animals around you. At your
library, field guides with pictures and scientific names can help you start getting
to know plants and animals by name.

Try your local Department of Natural
Resources, National or State Park, university, or agriculture extension agent.
Talking to people who work outside in the field on a regular basis, and maybe
asking if you can help as a volunteer or shadow them for a day or a week, is
the best way to start. Ask lots of questions, and be alert to your environment.

does having a green job mean to you?

Having a green job means making a
net difference of good in the world. It means giving more than you have
received. It means making space for other creatures and giving back to an earth
that has given you food, water, and the “ultimate standard of beauty and
truth,” as said by Bernd Heinrich. It means preserving that legacy of beauty
and truth, of biodiversity and productivity and harmony, for future generations
of creatures.



Alix Davidson

Washington DC

Director of Standards and
Certification at Green America


simple terms, describe what you do in your job.

Green America, a national nonprofit
founded in 1982, certifies business committed to using business as a platform
for social change. I run the process of certifying qualified businesses and
awarding them the Green America Seal in bronze, silver or gold.


did you decide to pursue this career?

I graduated from Evergreen State
College having studied social movements and having been a volunteer with the
local chapter of the Audubon Society. In 2004, I answered an ad on Idealist.com
to work on the first ever Washington DC Green Festival and I’ve been at Green
America ever since.


What kind of training/experience do you need for this

The work is really collaborative, so
experience working on a team is great. I always trust that people are reading
the industry media, like CSRWire and Triple Pundit, and I encourage them to
attend conferences like
Net Impact and BALLE and local green business/
entrepreneurship social gatherings. Green America’s context is using the power
of investors, consumers and businesses to make fundamental change, so
understanding how the economy and politics work on various levels is also
helpful. Finally, even in the age of texting and emails, good writing skills
are essential.


What are the best resources for someone interested in this

·         Informational
organizations or people you admire

·         Internships, even for half a day a week, since
they get you in the workplace and you can see what people are doing all around
you. Also, volunteering gives you better informal access and people are always more
forthcoming with people they’re familiar with.

·         Idealist.com is where I’ve gotten most of my
jobs and where people find ours

·         Industry
media and gatherings

·         The
: suck up
those green business books! They’ll help you understand the depth and breadth
of an economy and a social movement dedicated to making a world that truly
works for all.


What does having a green job mean to you?

It means being proud of my work and
my place in the world. I get to learn new things every day and I’m committed to
learning and growing however I can. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve
been given to be part of the movement.


Joe2Name: Joe Briney

City: Bedford, MA

Occupation: Photovoltaic (PV) Systems Engineer
and Project Manager


simple terms, describe what you do in your job.

Long story short: I design
photovoltaic (solar) power systems and oversee the construction process. I’ll
assess a client’s energy consumption and available space and create a PV system
that either meets their energy needs or maximizes the available area. From
there I will specify parts needed for the construction of the project, create
budgets and schedules, file paperwork with the utilities and local building
departments, monitor the construction process, and ultimately test the system
to ensure it meets performance standards.

did you decide to pursue this career?

I’ve always been interested in
energy efficiency and renewable energy. I want to be part of the solution to a
global problem.

kind of training/experience do you need for this career?

For my specific job, you need a
technical degree (engineering, science, architecture) as well as certification
from NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners). I have a
Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and one of two certifications from
NABCEP. I am currently working toward that second certification which requires
a certain amount of training and experience as project manager.

For just the project manager role
that I play, any college degree combined with NABCEP training and construction
experience would suffice.

are the best resources for someone interested in this career?

North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners

does having a green job mean to you?

It means that I am working on
something that is very important. I firmly believe that the world needs to
transition to renewables as soon as possible, and I am doing everything that I
can to help.


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