The renewable and clean energy field is growing at a tremendous rate, said Mozine Lowe, the executive director of the Center for Energy Education.
On Thursday the center hosted high school students from across the region at its Clean Energy High School Career Fair.
“Today is all about introducing our local high school students to renewable and clean energy,” she said.
Counties within the reach of the energy center all have projects in the community. “It is important for students to have the skills, talent and qualifications to take on some of those jobs.”
EDF Renewables, one of the company’s represented at the fair, is offering scholarships and the center is offering an internship program specifically for female students. “There is a lack of diversity and lack of women in the solar industry,” Lowe said. “These companies are providing funds for the center to offer information to these young women about job opportunities. They’re going to be mentors to these young women and will be spending time with them this summer. They’re going to learn about various job opportunities. We hope it will end with them being employed by one of these companies.”
Joseph Morris, a Bertie County student, saw the fair as “an opportunity to further our education and give us some options to look at after high school.”
While the junior’s current plans are to enter the criminal justice field, he said, “A lot of things are very convincing here. It’s a lot of opportunities. Coming out here gives me other options to look at.”
Rickey Freeman was one of two representatives of the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project through the Roanoke Center in Rich Square. “We help landowners sustain their properties and maintain it and make it profitable.”
Thirteen counties are now in the project. “It’s growing,” Freeman said. “There are eight of these projects in the United States and we’re fortunate to have one here in North Carolina.”
Freeman said the project came to the fair to show the students there are opportunities within the field.
Gabriel Roberts, of Roanoke Rapids, said he has always had forestry in the back of his mind. “The forestry careers caught my attention,” he said. “I would say it opened my eyes to a new career path. I’ve always had forestry on the backburner. It’s something I thought I might enjoy but now I think I’m really seriously considering it.”
Amanda Mack of EDF said, “It is a field that is continually growing. There’s opportunities where you can become very technical or be there for administrative support. There are opportunities in the field or in the office. There’s people centrally located and there are people that travel to projects.”
She said, “The life cycle of a project is like a big piece of pie with little slices along the way to be able to contribute to renewable energy. You can have a very diverse background and have an opportunity to support the renewable energy field.”