Solar Field Trip with Solano County Youth Achievement Center

Solar Field Trip with Solano County Youth Achievement Center

MCE recently supported an educational field trip to:
● Share information about careers in the clean energy industry
● Support educational opportunities for underserved youth
● Build a more equitable green workforce

In 2022, MCE provided tours of local renewable energy projects for youth across our service area to learn about career opportunities in the clean energy field.

Our most recent event was an educational career day and field trip for youth who receive services from the Solano County Probation Division’s Youth Achievement Center (YAC) in Vallejo.

The October 26 field trip was a partnership between the Solano County Probation Department, Solano County Supervisor and MCE Board member Monica Brown, the Rising Sun Center for Opportunity, and MCE.

Read on to learn about YAC and MCE’s efforts to build an equitable, clean energy workforce through education and community partnerships.

What is the Youth Achievement Center?

The Solano County Youth Achievement Center (YAC) is a program for youth under community supervision. YAC aids youth development and addresses changeable factors associated with criminal activity. The organization offers an array of classes to improve decision-making skills, address substance use, support goals for school and employment, and learn lifelong lessons that help youth make positive choices.

Nadia Hollomon, Supervising Deputy Probation Officer for Solano County’s Youth Probation Division, and YAC staff partnered with MCE to connect with a group of 10 young people who shared their thoughts on renewable energy and learned about workforce opportunities available in green careers, which range from professional internships to hard-hat union construction.

“We are always looking for new, enriching experiences for our youth,” said Nadia. “Partnering with MCE on this effort helped us learn about the types of opportunities available in the clean energy field.”

How does MCE build an equitable workforce?

MCE’s focus on community equity includes those who may have experienced past incarceration and are looking for opportunities to rejoin the workforce. In 2021 and 2022 MCE sponsored Rising Sun Opportunity Build’s workforce development program. As part of that effort, recent Rising Sun graduate Deyonna “Dee” Hancock – a proud union ironworker – addressed the YAC career day participants. As covered in the New York Times, Deyonna spent her 20’s in and out of the state prison system. Through this experience, she decided to make a change in her life and begin a path working in construction. Deyonna was able to share her story with the attendees and answer their questions about her day-to-day work, relationships with her friends and family now that she has steady employment, her background, and why she decided to make a change for herself.

“I always wanted to work in construction, and I’ve learned firsthand that this industry does not discriminate based on your past.” said Deyonna. “Being able to share my experience with the youth at the YAC was a special opportunity.”

How did participants react to their visit to the Lake Herman solar farm?

After the discussion with Dee, the group traveled to MCE’s Lake Herman feed-in tariff solar farm to learn more about the role that solar plays in providing energy for the local community. Operational since December 2021, the Lake Herman solar farm is a 5-megawatt project, which is enough power to serve approximately 2,000 homes with 100% renewable power annually.

Luke Pollinger of Photovoltaics California, who supports the operations and maintenance of the site, joined the tour group. Luke and MCE staff answered questions about renewable energy, how solar farms are built using union labor, and the environmental benefits of solar power. Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown joined the group for the Lake Herman tour and offered the following feedback:

“As a former public school teacher of 39 years in Solano County, investing in young people’s futures has always been a priority of mine. I was so impressed with the YAC students' level of engagement and curiosity throughout the day and with Deyonna's inspirational personal story. I’m thankful for MCE and the Youth Achievement Center coordination that helped bring this thoughtful day together.”

The youth left the day with a newfound enthusiasm for future opportunities in the trades and for renewable energy. MCE hopes to build on this day and develop future partnership opportunities with Officer Nadia and the YAC staff.
by Sebastian Conn

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