Envirolution tour at DRI inspires students to pursue sustainability careers | nnbusinessview.com

Envirolution tour at DRI inspires students to pursue sustainability careers

RENO, Nev. — Viridiana Tinajero wants to help save the world.

The junior at North Valleys High School was one of many students from the Washoe County and Carson City school districts who were inspired to someday help preserve the earth while participating in the Envirolution Sustainability Tour 2018, which took place March 26-30.

Envirolution is a Reno-based nonprofit dedicated to developing and scaling K-12 education, youth leadership development and community outreach programs centered around energy, efficiency, sustainability and STEM career development.

One of its programs is a sustainability tour, which takes middle and high school students to local businesses and organizations that have implemented sustainable practices in their business models.

On March 26, the first day of the tour, students swung by the Desert Research Institute in north Reno. There, knowledge-thirsty students — the tour took place over their spring break, after all — heard presentations from DRI faculty and NV Energy staff; checked out DRI's solar installation and solar storage; engaged in a hands-on solar water pump project; and joined in a roundtable discussion with three research students.

It was here, just hours into the Envirolution tour, when students like Tinajero were hit with a charge of help-save-the-world inspiration.

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"When they asked the research students what they want to do with their career, all of them answered they just want to save the world," Tinajero said. "And I think that any career that practices sustainability is going towards that goal, as well. And I think that's cool because it's the only earth we have, so we have to take care of it."

Dolores Romo, a senior at North Valleys, agreed with her schoolmate's sentiment. She said it's especially important for businesses and organizations to be sustainably conscious.

"It's really important because this is the only earth we have," Romo said. "So by making smarter choices, like sustainability, it definitely helps the environment. And companies should realize that — that there are options that can help you and can possibly save you money."

Added Tinajero: "Most of the energy or resources that a lot of companies use are not renewable and one day they're going to run out. So they have to start finding new ways to get renewable resources and ways to help the environment."

Gabriel Bermeo, a senior at GATE Institute at Procter Hug High School, said he's interested in pursuing a career in the sustainability realm, whether it's for an organization that researches and studies sustainability or for a business that incorporates it into their business model.

"I've been thinking about possibly going into an ecology study in college," Bermeo said. "It's a very important issue to me. Everyone lives on the earth, so it's something that will affect everyone — the state of our climate and environment.

"As long as we want to continue living in the same area without having the tragedy of the commons issue, everyone needs to be working together and cooperating so they can keep their shared resources sustained and alive."

Donna Walden, education/technology project coordinator at Envirolution, said every year the sustainability tour makes a big imprint on those who attend. In fact, she said students who participated in the previous tour increased their knowledge about sustainability by 50 percent. Moreover, 97 percent of students said they would either take sustainability practices into whatever career they pursued or would look into a STEM or green career.

"The students love the tour," Walden said. "On the very last day we have an exercise called the Sustainability Ambition Board, where they do an art project and give us a pictorial of what their vision of sustainability in the future is going to look like. And just by their responses you can tell that they were really moved by what they saw on the tour.

"When you see these students and how motivated they are to do things for the environment, it gives me a lot of hope for the future."

This year's Envirolution sustainability tour also visited Ormat, the Lockwood Landfill, Tesla's Gigafactory 1, and the Patagonia Distribution Center, and more.

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Visit envirolution.org to learn more about Reno-based nonprofit Envirolution and its sustainability tour.