Earth Week 2017: Energy Corps helps create a sustainable Missoula

Missoula is no stranger to the Energy Corps program, having hosted members since its beginning. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Editor’s note: In observance of Earth Week, Missoula Current is featuring a daily series of articles by members if the Energy Corps program in Missoula. In the days to come, you’ll learn about the Corps members and their work leading sustainability initiatives in our community.

By Erika Barnett/Energy Corps

Energy Corps is an AmeriCorps program developed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology in collaboration with the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Energy Corps was created to address community energy and sustainability needs by fostering sustainability, promoting sustainable energy consumption through outreach and education, as well as mitigating the impacts of global climate change in a local setting.

Missoula is no stranger to the Energy Corps program, having hosted members since its beginning.

But this round (2016-2017) of Energy Corps is particularly notable. This year, Missoula is hosting the most Energy Corps members it has ever had, with five members serving at different host sites.

Sean Doty serves the city of Missoula as the zero waste and energy and climate educator. In partnership with Missoula’s Energy Conservation coordinator, Sean helps to develop and coordinate a citywide Zero Waste Plan, which includes creating and delivering communications, reports, presentations and educational content.

Erika Barnett is Missoula County’s first Energy Corps member, serving as the sustainability coordinator. She is primarily responsible for generating the county’s baseline greenhouse gas emissions inventory, developing a sustainability assessment which evaluates policies and practices within county operations pertaining to sustainability, energy conservation and environmental health, as well as introducing sustainable initiatives throughout county operations.

Alexa Holliday is the zero waste educator for Home ReSource, and otherwise facilitates ZWAP! (Zero Waste Ambassador’s Program) in Missoula. Alexa is also responsible for drafting the ZeroByFifty: Missoula’s Pathway to Zero Waste plan for the city of Missoula.

Hailey Jorgensen serves as Climate Smart Missoula’s energy and climate coordinator. She provides program support to promote the goals set forth in the Community Climate Action Plan, as well as energy and climate specific initiatives such as the Solar Smart and Energy Smart programs.

Brittany Weber is the third AmeriCorps member to serve with the National Wildlife Federation as their habitat and sustainability education coordinator. She supports the Missoula Community Wildlife Habitat Initiative, with the goal of recognizing Missoula as Montana’s first certified Community Wildlife Habitat through the use of native plants and landscaping to develop natural habitats for wildlife.

She also coordinates the Eco-Schools USA Program throughout the state, which provides a free framework to help educators integrate sustainability principles throughout their curriculums.

This year, by hosting the largest number of Energy Corps members, Missoula is creating more avenues for collaboration across host sites. The members have weekly meetings to identify opportunities for cooperation, as well as to provide support for partner projects and goals.

Cultivating meaningful partnerships throughout the greater Missoula community has generated a network of those passionate about leading sustainable lifestyles, energy conservation, and environmental stewardship as methods of confronting climate change.

The Energy Corps members hope to encourage the growth of this network, not just in Missoula, but throughout the state. The Energy Corps program proves that local community action can make a profound impact.

Erika Barnett is Missoula County’s first Energy Corps member, serving as the sustainability coordinator.

Coming Wednesday: Zero Waste