Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Wealth can be described as the possessions, goods, and liberties that provide a person with a good quality of life. The more wealth a person has, the higher quality of life they can enjoy. When we think of modern wealth, we automatically picture lavish lifestyles, fancy cars, and large beautiful houses. But in reality, the well-being of a community is more complex than material goods. Wealth, security, and innovation go hand in hand. Modern energy has catapulted this aspect of our lives to new heights, uncovering new avenues for our societies to flourish. 

What is energy in the context of wealth? 

Energy is the fundamental element that propels the survival of our planet. Access to energy and water fuels our bodies and minds through the food and drink we consume. Similarly, water and energy allow us to improve and maintain our communities through scientific discoveries and technological advancements. Facilitated access to natural resources means more energy. More energy means more opportunities for growth and innovation. 

How has energy made our modern world wealthier? 

Thanks to new advancements, life today is much different than it used to be. Not too long ago, for example, the medical sector produced a much different environment than the one we see today. Thankfully, we no longer have to endure the horrors of 19th-century surgery and medicine. With access to electric lighting, operating machines, medications, antiseptics, and new technology, modern energy has provided us the opportunity to improve our lives by improving our health. A healthy population is better able to work and contribute to society, elevating the wealth of the community as a whole. This pattern is repeated and can be seen in how we produce food, manufacture goods, create modes of transportation, and much more. 

How can energy improve the economic stability of impoverished and developing countries? 

Energy equals time and comfortability. A machine that can plow your land in a quarter of what it would take you to do it on your own gives you the freedom to accomplish other tasks. Something as seemingly small as providing electric lighting and plumbing to an impoverished community can make a huge difference. This access to energy will allow them to do more with their time and improve their safety at night. People can study and work even when the sun goes down with electricity. Proper plumbing increases a young woman's chances of remaining in school after puberty. For these reasons, women tend to benefit the most from energy and the technology that comes with it. This pattern can be life-changing. A community with access to modern energy is more likely to have access to education, healthcare, and overall liberties that can improve their quality of life. Unfortunately, accessing energy is not always so easy. Geographic limitations, corruption, and war can make maximizing a nation's natural resources exceptionally difficult. Maintaining support for organizations such as Innovation Africa, which provide access to clean water and electric light to communities in Africa, is vital. 

How can sustainable practices help maintain and improve a nation's wealth? 

Thanks to the advancements in modern energy, we no longer have to put in nearly the same amount of work to get what we need to survive as we did only one hundred years ago. While this is great for innovation and advancement, communities with abundant access to modern energy are more likely to be over consumers. We currently find ourselves in a position where some communities desperately need updated energy systems and resources. This is juxtaposed with communities with ample access to energy resources who need to take a step back and conserve what they have. As a society, our goal should be to create a world in which there is a balanced distribution of wealth and a culture that encourages awareness of our natural resources and the energy they provide. 

Discover more about the connection between wealth and energy by watching the Power Trip: The Story of Energy WEALTH, and check out more amazing episodes here! Also available on PBS, Apple TV, and Prime Video.

To learn more about energy resources, how they influence our society, and how you can be a more responsible energy consumer, visit Smart Energy Education, Resourcefulness, and Watt Watchers of Texas!

War has been a part of humanity since the beginning of civilization. We fight wars over water, land, spices, resources, and most importantly, energy. However, people often don't pay much attention to where their energy comes from. They don't see that its influence and contribution to war and national security are incredibly significant and impact everyone's daily lives. 

Before modern energy, wars were fought on a much smaller scale. People were more restricted by geography and weather, so wars had to be fought during the spring for the soldiers to make it to battle. Men on horseback or foot would combat face to face with swords and other short-range weapons. In the most large-scale situations, cannons would be used to attack from a distance. In the end, the closer space required to fight meant that wars were much less destructive than today and caused death on a much smaller scale. 

Increased power and larger-scale destruction are needed to combat an enemy you can't always see. Modern energy allowed armies to create machines and weapons that could attack from a much greater distance. This was first seen on a large scale during World War I through tanks, machine guns, and aerial strikes. In more recent warfare, modern technology allows armies to attack through unmanned drones, lasers, and satellite spying. The distance created by these new inventions helped keep soldiers a little farther from direct contact with the enemy. Consequently, creating an environment in which soldiers can attack without being physically close to the opposition. 

This creates a cycle in which innovation fuels wars, and war fuels the need for innovation. New technology must be continually developed, and improvements must be consistently made to maintain the upper hand. All of this requires enormous amounts of energy. The production of metals to make weapons, planes, vehicles, computers, and drones require electricity, water, and fossil fuels. Feeding, housing, and transporting soldiers require energy all the same. 

Energy creates wealth, prosperity, security, and health in our communities. It is essential to our modern-day life, making it something we can use not only to protect ourselves but also as an incentive to go to battle in the first place. This is especially the case for limited resources like oil and natural gas. The importance of resources like oil has made many leaders realize that one of the most effective ways to impede a nation's ability to fight and defend itself is to attack and limit its access to energy resources. 

The days of hand-to-hand combat are long gone. Heavy reliance on foreign nations for natural resources has led to conflict time and time again. A nation's security relies on its ability to depend on its own energy. The diversification of energy resources, that's to say, the use of a combination of solar, water, fossil fuels, etc., instead of complete reliance on one form of energy, can make a considerable difference regarding security. Additionally, the diversification of resources creates a much more sustainable system in which the nation can operate at a much more efficient level, and the environmental impact is reduced.

In the end, energy is tied to everything. It provides us with our modern-day life and economy, facilitates the health and education of our populations, and has proven to be something worth fighting for. It is something we must use wisely and protect. The US military works hard to use its energy resources carefully and efficiently to maintain the nation's security. The civilians of a country should strive to do the same. Becoming a smarter energy consumer and making an effort to live a greener lifestyle should be a priority always. 

To learn more about the connection between war and energy, check out Power Trip: The Story of Energy’s WAR episode along with the OVEE panel energy and war discussion on Smart Energy Education.

Additional resources surrounding energy, sustainability and energy careers can be found on Smart Energy Education, Resourcefulness, and the Watt Watchers of Texas!

Before modern modes of transportation like cars, planes, and ships, travel was drastically different. Long-distance travel was highly energy-intensive. People were unlikely to voyage very far from their birthplace. Moving away from home was only considered under extreme circumstances. Having to rely on animals or sometimes just your own strength to carry you along the way meant your voyage could easily last days or months. You were likely to run into robbers, storms, and other obstacles that made these voyages not only dangerous but expensive. 

Thankfully, innovation and technology have successfully allowed us to innovate our way past the good old days of utilizing manpower and animal power to get around. With the help of modern energy, we can now cross entire oceans and continents in hours. Not only that, these new modes of transportation have brought with them the development of complex industries. Travel lifestyles, car culture, and online shopping are all side effects of modern transportation. With growing waste and contamination from this newfound easy access to travel and products, demand for efficiency and sustainability has begun to pressure the transportation industry to make a few changes. The need for new inventions and ideas is greater now than ever before. So how exactly is transportation connected to energy? And how does this relationship influence our daily lives? 

Energy and transportation

The connection between transport, energy, and the environment is relatively straightforward on the surface. If you own a car, you need gas or electricity to get where you need to go. This requires access to fossil fuels and/or renewable resources. Not to mention the land required for roads and highways or the natural resources used in the systems to manufacture and dispose of vehicles. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the transportation of people and goods accounted for 28% of the total U.S energy consumption in 2021. Energy is involved in every step of the process. Knowing the energy intensity of the transportation systems you use is essential if you want to make a difference. 

Private transportation 

Everyone has to have a method to move around. You might live in a city where walking or biking is a reasonable alternative to standard vehicle transportation. In which case, you can sleep well knowing you made an effort to make a difference and got a little exercise simultaneously. However, there are a couple more things to consider for those who have to travel longer distances. You might think driving an EV will always be cleaner than a gas car. But if the electricity used to power the EV is derived from fossil fuels, it may not be as eco friendly as you think. When purchasing a new vehicle, consider your local source of electricity. Make sure to compare fuel efficiency and ask about any green features. Sustainability starts with thoughtfulness, so keep the environmental consequences of your vehicle in mind. Both when you purchase and when you choose to drive. 

Public transportation 

Public transportation is one of the most effective ways to become a more efficient energy consumer. Something as simple as riding the bus to work can reduce traffic congestion, air and sound pollution, and the need for road expansions. Increased ridership improves the energy-saving power of our public transportation systems. So by making public transportation a part of your routine you can actually help to supply funds to improve these systems and make them more efficient. So catch the bus when you can, you can help out the environment and save some gas money all in one. 

Goods and services

Transportation involves much more than the movement of people. In fact, the EIA reported that heavy trucks and buses, which primarily transport materials and consumer goods, accounted for 18% of US energy consumption in 2019. These modes of transportation are reserved primarily for materials and consumer goods. The maximization of our transportation systems has allowed us to move everything from food and water to consumer goods over much longer distances. The convenience of having access to products from around the world may be rewarding at the moment. However, the ecological impact of the trucks, boats, and trains that carry these products to your door can be more severe than you imagine. Buying local products reduces the demand for the use of transport methods that contaminate our environment. We can then conserve our resources and allocate them to sectors of our society that need them more. 

With the rise of new technology, keeping up with our growing energy demand without dwindling our natural resources requires strategic planning. It is a responsibility we only recently started to take seriously. Much-needed improvements need to be made to reach sustainability. Thankfully, we have a lot to look forward to. Fantastic new jobs and career opportunities have been developed due to this new awareness and have become an essential part of travel and transportation. Change starts with our personal choices, so carpool and use public transportation when you can, and be thoughtful about the world's energy resources when purchasing new products. 

For more tips on energy conservation and sustainability, visit watt-watchers.com, Resourcefulness or smartenergyeducation.com to learn more!

Our relationship with food has changed dramatically over the history of humanity. We have shifted over time from hunter-gatherer communities to farmers to modern-day consumers. You may not think much about where our food comes from or how it's produced. Yet, how we acquire our food influences our routines in more ways than most people imagine. Not too long ago, the food options we had at our disposal were limited to the geographic resources of our region and the time of year. 

Modern energy has successfully facilitated the production and distribution of produce and meat products on a larger scale than ever before. Our society seems to no longer be subject to regional or seasonal limitations. Consequently, we have developed a food culture of overconsumption. But how exactly is food correlated with energy? And why is building a sustainable food system so important? 

What is energy? 

Energy is the propeller of all the processes we need to function in our daily lives. From the food and water we consume and cars we drive to the medicines we use in our hospitals and clinics. We need energy to survive on the most foundational levels. Still, we can and have also used energy to improve our lives by improving the systems we use for food production, transportation, medicine, and technology. We now use our energy resources for much more than our basic necessities. Solar energy, for example, powers our food system through photosynthesis, cellular function, and the water cycle, and our modern technology systems through solar panels that create electricity. 

How is water connected to energy? 

Often referred to as the energy-water nexus, the connection between water and energy results from needing water resources to create energy and energy to access water. Electricity, for example, is often produced through dams and hydroelectric plants. Water is also used to cool power plants and extract fossil fuels. On the other hand, access to fresh water, as an unlimited resource, requires an incredible amount of energy. Often, communities face obstacles due to geographic, economic, and political factors. They then have to resort to purification plants, water importation, or desalination processes to ensure they have enough water to sustain their population's demand. For more information regarding the energy-water nexus, check out our blog here!

What is the food-water-energy nexus? 

On a basic level, the relationship between our food system and energy resources can be seen through the solar energy and water that allows plants to go through photosynthesis, providing produce for ourselves and the livestock we eat. However, energy is also embedded in our food system in less obvious ways. This relationship is referred to as the food-water-energy nexus and can be seen in all aspects of our lives. 

Take something as simple as a grilled chicken salad, for example. A salad like this could include chicken, green leaves, onion, cherry tomatoes, and dressing. Such a basic ingredient list might not seem to require an incredible amount of energy. Yet, each ingredient requires a certain amount of land, water, and fertilizers to grow. Food producers will need fossil fuels to harvest, process, package, and ship the products. Electricity, water, and fuel will be required to refrigerate and cook the ingredients, which will then be presented to you as a grilled chicken salad. Now say you order the salad but find that you aren't that hungry. You decide to throw half the salad away, wasting valuable resources as you do so. 

Our societies, specifically those with more wealth and access to resources, are not aware of the consequences of their actions. We have become far too accustomed to the facilitated access to anything we want, whenever we want. Buying large amounts of food and letting them go to waste in the fridge is common. Throwing away a portion of your meal at a restaurant is a regular habit for many. Still, the complex processes needed to produce the foods we love are excessively energy-intensive. We need our energy resources for much more than food. Therefore, being aware of our food production and consumption habits is paramount for sustainability. 

What can you do to reduce waste and conserve the world's energy resources? 

As a modern-day food consumer, there are many things you can do to help! Think of the number of times you've bought a package of spinach and then failed to finish the bag. It happens to the best of us. But taking the initiative and only buying products you are confident you will consume can make a huge difference. Additionally, everyone should make an effort to do their research. There is much to learn about the source of our food products, the production habits and sustainability efforts of agricultural organizations and the energy needed to produce certain products. 

For more information regarding the connection between food and energy and what you can do to help visit Smart Energy Education, Resourcefulness and Watt Watchers of Texas! 

In our modern world, we use water for almost everything in our daily lives. We even have an entire day dedicated to celebrating water. Kindred to its relationship with the natural world, it is fundamentally one of the pillars that allow our bodies and communities to thrive and function. Without it, our survival would be impossible. However, as large and endless as our oceans, lakes, and rivers may seem, water is not unlimited. The sustainable use of our water resources is critical. And the ability to maximize their potential is essential for our way of life.

The problem of access to water is more complicated than it might seem. A significant amount of energy is needed to obtain, treat, desalinate and transport water. Consequently, creating a double-edged sword. So why does water seem to come so quickly to our homes if it takes so much energy? And what actions can we take to conserve our water resources?

A little over one hundred years ago, access to running water in homes was not very common. People had to rely on wells and outhouses to accomplish what we can now in our bathrooms. Through the infrastructural development of sewer and pipe systems, modern-day energy facilitated the transportation of water to our homes. However, proper infrastructure does not remove all obstacles. Providing the water to run through the pipes in these systems has its challenges. Depending on the geography of your community, the process required to gain fresh water will change. Ranging from simply pumping the water from a lake or river to water treatment and desalination facilities, providing fresh water to a community can be very difficult. 

The average person uses an estimated 400 liters of water per day. You likely don't witness so much water go down the drain in your home with your own eyes. Yet, it's essential to understand that the water we use goes far beyond what we see. Many don't realize the vast need for water in all the other sectors of our society. Otherwise known as the Energy-Water Nexus, we rely on energy to access water and water to access energy. Agricultural practices, the production of clothes, electricity, even power plant temperature control, and raw material extractions rely on water. 

Additionally, the process of treating, transporting and collecting water often requires electricity and other energy resources. Consequently, every time you buy new clothes, turn on the lights or drive your car, you consume water and every time you consume water you also consume other forms of energy. Unfortunately, due to our relationship with our energy resources, most of us miss the consequences of these actions. The closely intertwined relationship between water and energy means that you can't have one without another. Excessive water use risks leaving water contaminated, increases the risk of drought and negatively impacts the environment. We additionally run the risk of being unable to support juxtaposing energy systems, leaving us vulnerable to the possibility of lacking sufficient energy in the future. 

Entire civilizations, historically, have fallen due to lack of water, and the modern-day political environment continues to be drastically influenced by the energy-water nexus. As a society, we have become very comfortable indulging in the resources available. The disconnect has grown. However, awareness of the effect our actions have on our resources could help us get through the obstacles we face today.

In the following years, water demand will only increase, but our water supply will not keep pace. Sustainability and water conservation practices are more critical in our modern world than ever before. Today's parents, leaders, and educators have an increasingly significant job to teach younger generations how to conserve water and help create a more sustainable tomorrow. 

For more information on how you and your students can save water and energy at school or at home, check out the fantastic resources at Smart Energy Education, which includes Watt Watchers and Resourcefulness

April 22, 2022, marks the world's fifty-second annual Earth Day. Founded in 1970 in the United States and becoming global in 1990, Earth Day was a social, cultural, and political movement that aimed to restore and revitalize the nation's natural environment. Before this time, the United States, along with much of the rest of the world, was seemingly unconcerned with the effects industry, agriculture, and transportation had on our natural resources. Seen as a road to prosperity, the mass production of products, food, and unsustainable energy practices were common and rarely questioned. However, the pollution, waste, and serious public health complications that followed were not so easily ignored.

Following an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson, Pete McCloskey, and a young activist named Denis Hayes decided to take action. So they founded Earth Day to inspire Americans to take action, encouraging them to take to the streets to protest. The movement was a great success, which later contributed to the passage of multiple environmental conservation laws that have greatly impacted the way we view sustainability as a society. 

Earth Day 2022 has officially announced its theme as Invest in Our Planet. This means investing time to learn more about the world's energy resources and the changes you can make to reduce your energy consumption. The past couple of years have brought about many social, political, and cultural changes. The consequences of decades of irresponsible energy consumption have become too large to toss aside, and a new generation of people who want real change are taking a stand. Modern energy has created an environment where we can live with ease and comfort. These leaps have proven to be exceptionally advantageous, leading to advances in medicine, transportation, and much more. However, the disconnect from our energy sources has also made it easy to overconsume, resulting in poor energy literacy and a lack of environmental awareness. 

We need now a new cultural and political shift in the way we look at energy. Sustainable practices are the key to job growth and long-term profitability. Being mindful of the products we purchase, for example, avoiding fast fashion and buying from local sources, encourages the development of a more environmentally friendly economy. Large industries will be more hesitant to shift their mass production operations if they see no profit in an alternative. However, demonstrating a demand for more sustainable practices can create a new path where innovative ideas can thrive. An improved version of industry and innovation is right around the corner, with new job opportunities, economic growth, and a cleaner environment. The decisions we make today will determine how fast we get there. 

At Smart Energy Education, we want to help you and your students invest in our planet by providing free energy education resources in the classroom or at home. Packed with blogs, courses, Watt Watchers Activities, and more, our goal is to improve energy literacy worldwide. We want to help you unlock your energy conservation and sustainability potential and introduce you to amazing energy careers. For more information regarding our resources, visit smartenergyeducation.com. 

Water and energy are the two fundamental components of a society, and they are interconnected. Educating students on the world's energy resources, how they contribute to our daily lives, and the consequences of wasteful practices is critical to shaping a more resourceful world. 

The city of San Antonio, for example, has a great history of sustainability and energy conservation efforts, recently even announcing its plan to be carbon neutral by the year 2050. Their consistent push toward a clean energy future makes them a leading city in the nation for sustainability practices. This is why Smart Energy Education and the Watt Watchers of Texas were proud to recently partner with the City of San Antonio, CPS Energy, Itron, Inc., and the San Antonio Water Service to provide a free, in-person screening of the energy and water documentary Thirst for Power for over 300 San Antonio area high schoolers at The Tobin Center for Performing Arts.

Thirst for Power, shot on location across France, California, and Texas, explores the history of civilization’s quest to procure abundant water and energy — from ancient Roman aqueducts in Europe to modern America’s vast hydroelectric infrastructure. The film explores our dependence on water for energy as well as vulnerabilities in our current systems. Changing the way we think about water and energy can secure the long-term sustainability of both precious resources. The documentary combines anecdotes and personal stories with insights into the latest science of energy and water, and identifies a hopeful path toward wise long-range water-energy decisions and a more reliable and abundant future for humanity.

In celebration of World Water Day, the March 25th screening event focused on the history of water resources, the connection between water and energy - otherwise known as the water-energy nexus - and its contribution and influence on our modern-day lives. Prior to the start of the event, students had the opportunity to play a series of interactive Kahoot games to test their water and energy knowledge. The event was then kicked off by Mayor Ron Nirenberg, followed by the documentary screening, and culminating with a panel of local students moderated by Dr. Michael E. Webber, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Thirst for Power. The event concluded with a call to action and words of inspiration for the future from the CEO and President of SAWS, Mr. Robert R. Puente.

According to the United Nations world water development report 2021, throughout the past century, the global use of freshwater has increased by a factor of 6 and will likely continue to grow by about 1% each year. These statistics prove that we, as parents and educators, need to emphasize water sustainability education. Education on water and energy is more critical now than ever before; Smart Energy Education contains world-class energy education resources available to educators, families, and communities all around the world. So even those who are unable to make it to live events can still access fantastic learning resources to use at home or in the classroom. 

As we say at Smart Energy Education; “The way we manage energy and water will define the century”. So with education, collaboration, and innovation we can inspire and help create a more resourceful world. 

World Water Day, founded by the United Nations in 1993, is an international celebration of the world's freshwater resources and was created to help spread awareness on the importance of water conservation worldwide. With rapidly increasing climate change, growing populations, and heightened demand for clean water, communities have had to become increasingly more innovative in their water resources. Resorting to water reclamation and water desalination practices and increasing reliance on groundwater, it is paramount that the importance of conserving the world's precious water resources is highlighted for the prosperity of our future to be maintained. 

Water runs through the pipes in our homes with convenience and ease nowadays. When we need water, we simply turn a knob and can then immediately use it for drinking, cleaning, cooking, and showering in our homes. If they are environmentally conscious, people will be mindful of their water consumption when completing daily at-home tasks. But the reality is that we use water for much more than what is seen immediately in our homes. Easy access has made the general consumer less aware of their water resources, consequently becoming unaware of the water usage that happens every day in less obvious ways. 

Water consumption is all around us, from the water used to cool down the power plants that provide us with electricity to the water we use in food production and clothes manufacturing facilities. Its overwhelming inefficiency is more severe than one might assume. According to The United Nations world water development report 2021, 69% of the total water withdrawals conducted worldwide are due to agricultural practices, industry accounting for 19%, and municipalities for 12%. 

While some awareness regarding the importance of conservation efforts has surfaced in recent years, the use and dependence on these water resources increase annually; unfortunately, water availability and quality have failed to follow the same pattern. Fast fashion, for example, needs water during the production of the textiles, the plastic and paper used in the packaging, and the transportation used to deliver the items to your door. Not to mention the water contamination that can later be caused when the clothes are no longer in fashion and are thrown away. Keeping these things in mind when purchasing products and being overall more aware of the processes put in place to create the products we love could help you, as a consumer, make more conscious decisions to impact water availability positively in the future. 

In addition to this, it is crucial to keep in mind that first-world nations and modern-day societies with access to water resources are not unanimous worldwide. Many communities internationally struggle every day to meet the minimum water demand necessary to survive. These issues are outstanding in our modern world. They will continue to become increasingly incremental obstacles to our future if changes are not made in how we consume water agriculturally, industrially, and as a society overall. 

As advocates for water conservation and sustainability practices, Smart Energy Education encourages you and your family to take some time to celebrate World Water Day and learn more about your water resources and how they are consumed in your home. From the length of the showers you take to the manufacturing practices of the appliances you buy, we urge you to be mindful of your water resources, keeping in mind that while they are essential to our comfortability and survival, they are not unlimited. 

Check out some great water conservation activities and blogs on Smart Energy Education and the Watt Watchers of Texas to learn more!

Career-Connected Learning, sometimes referred to as Work-Based Learning, is an educational model that introduces students to career paths and employment opportunities through interactive programs and partnerships with established business entities, professionals, and experts in different fields. It is a model that has successfully been adopted worldwide and has proven effective in carving a path to fill skills gaps in industries lacking qualified job applicants. 

The United States currently faces several challenges regarding educational and professional pathways. Increasing tuition costs for four-year universities and a decrease in related employment opportunities have made many students reconsider their post-high school education and career options. Many feel confident that they are not ready for the economic stress coupled with traditional universities but are also often unaware of lucrative alternative opportunities. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is currently a concerning gap in qualified middle-skill workers in the United States. Defined as a job that requires more education and training than a high school degree but less than one earned through a four-year university, middle-skill jobs are some of the most in-demand and well-paid in recent years. However, in pushing students towards more academic, university-centered careers, the current educational system has failed to present jobs in the middle-skill sector as beneficial and often necessary alternatives. The juxtaposition of these two circumstances offers a unique opportunity for career collective and work-based learning programs to thrive. 

With employers reporting a significant lack of job applicants with minimum relevant work experience, technical, vocational, and soft skills, government agencies have created programs to combat the issue. Educational models incorporating career-connected learning (CCL), work-based learning (WBL), and vocational education and training are now being developed along with government funding and assistance initiatives. Included are employer subsidies in the form of grants, reimbursements, or tax credits, which vary depending on each state's unique laws and regulations. The economic initiatives coupled with program expansion efforts in different states represent a significant step forward to fill the skills gap; however, partnerships between educators and employers need to be emphasized for any real change to be sustained. When creating career-connected learning pathways, vocational skill-building opportunities such as apprenticeships and internships are critical. 

A great example of these programs is Career Connect Washington, a community leadership organization that creates work-based academic programs for students. Through the use of their CCW Program Directory, they are able to publish career-connected partnerships and opportunities that students in the area can then choose to pursue. This type of network is significant because it creates and shines a light on job opportunities in the students' area while providing them an avenue to receive the education and training needed for the job. With the help of grants as well as organizations such as Microsoft Philanthropies, Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and many more, Career Connect Washington has succeeded in creating a community focused on building multiple sustainable pathways to lucrative careers for young students. 

Career-connected learning programs are pivotal to the future fulfillment and success of the United States' middle-class jobs. Energy and sustainability careers are often associated with rigorous STEM degrees which leads them to be overlooked by students. However, opportunities in the energy sector are abundant, and can present themselves to those with varying educational backgrounds. At the end of the day, for environmental and sustainability efforts to be sustained in a community all aspects of infrastructure and industry need to work together and do their part. Traditional universities and careers that require only a high school degree are not for everyone, and thankfully they are also not the only option. If you are an educator or student, look into your area's career-connected and work-based learning opportunities. You could even be the first to reach out to organizations that may want to create a program with your school. 

For more information regarding alternative careers in the energy sector, visit the Smart Energy Education website!

Our ability to pass on information from generation to generation, known as collective learning, stands as a hallmark of what makes us unique as human beings. Before modern civilization, it was imperative to communicate knowledge regarding animal migration, safe vegetation, and climate patterns to survive in the wild. The knowledge we have accumulated over centuries has allowed us to advance far beyond any other animal on the planet and continues to be a pivotal factor contributing to our future. Society today is drastically different from what it used to be. 

Essential knowledge for our survival, that which deserved priority for the education of younger generations, was more obvious when the threats to our survival had fangs and made loud, intimidating noises. Modern-day threats are much more subtle and are often man-made. Additionally, history has taught us that knowledge is power; therefore, political and economic factors often contribute more directly to the education system and can unfortunately fail or even consciously choose not to see the importance of specific topics. Energy education has slowly but surely become a top priority for the world's strongest superpowers and with it investment in sustainability efforts has allowed a new wave of educational programs to emerge. 

However, energy education can be very broad. It consists of everything from what energy itself is and what types of energy resources we currently have at our disposal to how energy can be used to make our lives easier. New technology can be exceptionally exciting. The advancements made during the industrial revolution in Great Britain catapulted the nation into a new era and allowed them to become one of the world's most influential and powerful nations. However, the environmental consequences created due to people's ignorance regarding these new technologies continue to affect the world to this day. 

The first thing that needs to be understood is that energy is a pivotal part of nearly every industry in the world. It is the foundation of our infrastructural systems and can influence us in the form of the water and food we consume, the way we use transportation, the comfort levels we experience in our homes, and much more. Therefore, passing down what we have learned about the consequences of irresponsible energy consumption is essential if any real change is going to be achieved. 

Collective learning is important because, since the 1800s, our knowledge surrounding energy resources and the effect of using them responsibly has grown exponentially. However, our effort to combat the negative effects of our actions has not been quite as significant. Modern-day energy education needs to be revamped and fortified, and to be taken seriously; the community must see environmental sustainability as a priority for the future. 

Educators tasked with incorporating new sustainability resources into their curriculums need to be aware of current political standpoints, government policy as well as new technological innovations. These factors determine the margins in which energy professionals may do their jobs and can reveal vital gaps in our energy systems. For example, the UK's new law set to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 will force those currently working in the energy sector to pivot their approach and use of energy resources substantially. This requires additional training, resources, and time. In some cases, new careers need to be created, and in all cases, old careers will need to be updated to meet the new demand. 

Trade careers, such as those that involve plumbing and HVAC technicians, are often not considered when thinking of energy education; however, they play a pivotal role in the energy sector and can have a huge impact on clean energy. The restructuring of our energy systems that is due to take place throughout the next decade will soon require the development of trade skill pathways for energy careers. With increasing costs associated with four-year universities along with decreasing guarantee of employment after graduation, this could mean new, lucrative opportunities for those who choose to take on a trade program instead. Additionally, with the need to repair or rebuild aging infrastructure, the demand for qualified skilled trade workers will continue to grow. 

The importance of collective action must also be strongly emphasized. Community standards in regards to clean energy as well as expectations surrounding energy resources can have a huge impact on the energy industry. When the community comes together to assure energy education is being incorporated into the curriculum at schools and conservation efforts such as recycling programs are being implemented and maintained, it can assure that collective learning in these communities is sustained and can guarantee long-term positive effects. 

For more information on clean energy careers, at-home activities for students, and much more, visit Smart Energy Education!

November kicks off the start of the Holiday season! There is so much to be excited about and with Thanksgiving, time with family and lots of amazing food, it's bound to be an amazing time of year! The chaos that has surrounded the world over the past two years has created huge obstacles for families around the world, so finally being able to get together is what we have all been patiently waiting for. But let's not forget the sacrifices that have been made to bring us all these amazing experiences. America Recycles Day is the perfect reminder that even though the season of food, gifts and travel is in full swing, it's important to take a step back and continue to be mindful of the world's resources. Recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on November 15th, 2019, America Recycles day was created as an acknowledgement of the importance of recycling in the United States. It serves as a time for Americans to educate themselves about recycling and to reflect on how they use and dispose of the recyclable products they rely on in their everyday lives. 

Propelled by the world's concern for the environment, the increase in recycling rates over the past fifty years represent an incredible leap of progress. While the benefits of recycling may seem obvious, there are more opportunities that come with the implementation of recycling programs than one might think. According to the EPA, reuse and recycle activities  account for about 681,000 jobs in the United States. That's a lot of money in wages that Americans can then use for their family and to contribute to their community. While also creating the opportunity to bring innovative minds together to brainstorm solutions to the world's most outstanding environmental obstacles. The technological advancements that have been achieved in recent years with intentions of creating a more efficient and green energy industry are monumental, and have held the door open for up and coming industry professionals to continue on the same path. The new generation of students heading into the workforce will now have the unique opportunity to combine their passion, whether it be in the arts, STEM, or anything else with sustainable practices like never before. What better way to start on this journey than a fun and effective recycling project? 

The environment will always be grateful if you lend a hand, with the increasing amounts of plastic products being distributed around the world each year, being able to repurpose and reuse some of these items can make a huge difference. However, not everyone understands how the process surrounding the recycling system works. For example, have you ever taken a nice lunch break in the park then found yourself standing in front of three colorful trash cans with different symbols? Many of us have and in these situations most of us throw everything into one random bin or make a guess. What many people fail to realize when doing this is the hassle it creates for recycling companies down the line. Understanding how to recycle correctly is an essential component of the recycling process. 

Good intentions can sometimes lead to materials damaging the equipment at recycling facilities, which can slow down the process and make it more difficult for recycling companies to do their job. For this reason, it is essential that you do your research to find out what can and cannot be recycled at your local recycling facility. Any items that are usually excluded from recycling facilities such as computer devices, holiday lights or electric cords can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way as well, just look into your local electronic stores recycling program and check out the Watt Watcher’s Disposing and Recycling E-Waste activity to learn more. 

Thankfully, we have some great resources that can be useful for when you find yourself in these situations. Watt Watchers of Texas is an excellent source of information when it comes to all things recycling. With the primary goal of helping schools and homes save money by saving energy, you can rely on them to provide exciting sustainability activities. Among these amazing activities is, About Recycling, an activity that you can use to educate yourself and your children about all things recycling. Additionally, check out Hunt for Recycling, where you can take action to reduce the waste that ends up in landfills. 

America Recycles day represents a step in the right direction towards a more sustainable future. Lets keep the ball rolling by taking action and striving to make a difference every day. This Thanksgiving, as you sit around the dinner table with your family, take some time to reflect on the energy it took to bring everyone together and to produce everyone's amazing platters. Take some time to think about what you could do to save a little energy, do a little recycling and lend a hand to the environment during such a high energy resource time of the year. 

The New Year has finally come, so let us raise a toast to new beginnings and new opportunities. As we discussed in our Energy Awareness blog post, Energy is an integral part of our lives and is one of the most sought-after products in the world. Energy conservation efforts, scientific discoveries, and the general human desire to improve our daily lives will always be conducive to change. History has demonstrated that minor occurrences and ideas can lead to technology’s most innovative leaps forward. Government projects and proposals, amongst other factors, set to commence in 2022 are due to shake up the energy sector and allow new jobs and opportunities to surface. Let us break down some key factors set to impact Energy in 2022. 

Climate change has been a controversial subject around the world for years. While some suggest that climate change should not be considered an international crisis, growing scientific evidence, and current unusual weather changes have helped catapult concern for the environment around the world. Efforts surrounding recycling, water conservation, and renewable resources are set to increase significantly in the upcoming years, opening the door to new industries, technologies, and ideas. 

According to a new AP-NORC/EPIC poll and the University of Chicago, climate change concerns are substantial and increasing. Three in four Americans agree that climate change is real. Forty-one percent conclude that it is caused primarily by human activity; you can expect to see support for the clean energy movement to pick up some speed in the upcoming months. Taking some time to research the effects of global warming along with discovering what you and your family can do to slow it down could get you ahead of the game for the new year. The most remarkable change comes from influential organizations; therefore, people in high-ranking positions within the energy industry who care about the environment are key to future progress. If you find yourself in a position where a career change seems to be the right choice for you, or are a high school student, consider looking into a career in energy through University or a trade program. 

The incredible advancements accomplished in recent years, such as those for electric cars thanks to the new public interest and significant investments, mark the beginning of a new age in Energy. It seems the world has finally begun to see the importance of renewable energy for our future. Goals to reduce the use of coal in nations worldwide, like the ones here in the United States, will leave a vacuum in the energy sector. Improvements to existing clean energy technology, such as wind turbines or water plants, will be required to keep up with the demand for power these countries must meet. Accompanied by an increasingly clean energy market, accelerated demand for new technology is bound to follow. Clean energy technology flourished in 2021, likely due to the COVID 19 Pandemic that temporarily limited the use of public buildings and transportation. But this does not mean everything will go back to usual once the pandemic ends. 

The world is hungry for change, and new technologies are being developed each day to help reach international clean energy goals. Taking some time this year to investigate new opportunities in energy could prove to be more lucrative than one might imagine. Something as small as making sure you turn off the lights in empty rooms or understanding the correct way to recycle to something as significant as pursuing a professional career in clean energy can make a substantial difference. 

Government policy will always be one of the main contributors to climate change reform. The laws that are put in place to address the disposal of waste, the use of the resources we have, and the type of resources that are used must be addressed and modified where appropriate if the clean energy goals the public wants to see are to be accomplished. In the past year, the United States and countries such as the UK and Mexico have experienced the beginning of progress in clean energy. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) bill passed in the US alone will create millions of jobs in the next two years and will open the doors to many of the opportunities mentioned above.  

If climate change is something you are passionate about or something you wish to become more educated about, this is a great year to get the ball rolling and make some real change! Support for clean energy is stronger than ever before. Students and young adults are due to experience a new opportunity to pursue a hands-on, highly in demand and high paying career if they feel a traditional four year university is not right for them. 

Take the first step by learning more about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in our blog here! Then explore the Watt Watchers of Texas website and Resourcefulness resources available on Smart Energy Education to discover how engineers and scientists use technology to generate energy in our everyday lives. 

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
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