Grade 12 student Reid Bentzen realizes we live in a changing world when it comes to energy production and conservation.
“Times are changing and we have to change with the times. We can’t just keep doing the same thing over and over again,” said the Lasalle Secondary School student.
The 18-year-old’s interest in energy and the environment attracted him to the new Energy Specialist High Skills Major program Lasalle started offering this year.
The program, for students in grades 11 and 12, bundles energy-related courses such as physics, chemistry and environmental sciences together. Students, who also complete a coop placement, graduate with a special certificate.
“I like it because it’s more focused and it organizes the courses. It opens the doors a lot,” Bentzen said.
Bentzen is just one of two students in the program this year. In an effort to recruit more students, the official launch of the program will be held today — Earth Day.
“Energy is not just power generation and power distribution, but it’s also the whole sustain-ability and conservation piece, which is why Earth Day is very appropriate for our launch,” said Sofia Gallagher, Rainbow District School Board’s co-ordinator for specialist high skills major programs.
Lasalle students will have a whole day of workshops and field trips today to learn about the energy program.
A major benefit of a high skills major program is it lets students explore a field of study before post-secondary school.
“It allows the students in grades 11 and 12 to do a little bit of career awareness, which to me is the most beneficial because it allows them to identify early on what they might want to continue on in (in postsecondary school),” Gallagher said.
The launch of the program is one of dozens of events happening across the city today to mark Earth Day. Students at several schools will be bringing litterless lunches, planting trees and cleaning up neighbourhoods. College Boreal will be unveiling new environmentally friendly drinking fountains. Free stainless steel water bottles will be distributed to all employees at the school to reduce the use of plastic bottles.
A day-long conference called Good Green Jobs: Making it Happen in Sudbury will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Exhibition Centre on Falconbridge Road.
The event is a partnership between Blue Green Canada, Sudbury and District Labour Council, Sudbury and Manitoulin Workforce Partnership Board, Green Earth Expo and The Ontario Trillium Foundation.
The conference is focused on bringing green jobs to Sudbury.
“It’s not just retrofitting and greening of a business, but it involves renewable energies and resources that we do have in abundance,” said Gordon Harris, of Blue Green Canada, which is an alliance between Environmental Defence and United Steelworkers.
“We are the second sunniest city in Ontario here in Sudbury. Since solar power tends to work more efficiently in colder weather, we actually have this opportunity to develop an energy feed into our homes.”
The organizers saw Earth Day as a perfect opportunity to bring an exhibition about the emerging green economy to Sudbury, Harris said.
“We anticipate that some of our resource-based industries in Northern Ontario may find themselves more automated and therefore, we could end up with a surplus pool of talented people that could be harnessed into these emerging industries,” Harris said.
The event, which is free for students and teachers and $5 for the public, will include workshops on the hour. Among the topics are retrofitting homes, installing solar power, helping businesses and institutions go green and generating more wind power.
On Friday and Saturday, the Green Earth Expo will take place at the Exhibition Centre. It costs $24 for a ticket good for both days.
The highlight of the expo will be a presentation on Saturday at 4 p.m. by the “green pirate” Paul Watson, of the show Whale Wars.Watson is president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
The trade show will include presentations throughout the day and booths featuring environmentally responsible products and services. Friday night from 7 to 10 p.m., the Jeff Stewart Drum Circle, Mojo Radio and the Bluez Brotherz will perform at the Exhibition Centre.
A fundraiser for Watson’s appearance will be held at the Buddha on Saturday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 and include dinner.
For more information, visit www.tradeeventsnorth.com.