Project Spotlight: Energy for ME

STELAR recently had the opportunity to interview Ruth Kermish-Allen from the ITEST Project Energy for ME to learn more about the program's impact. Energy for ME is an energy education program of the Island Institute, involving ten island and coastal communities. Students in grades 6-12 – and their families – are learning how to better understand their communities' energy-consumption habits, as well as how to develop effective strategies to increase energy efficiency.

What excites you most about the work you do every day? 

The ability to envision what education “could” look like in the future and working hand-in-hand with schools to make those dreams become reality.  So many people see technology as a distraction from learning, but I truly enjoy showing the transformative potential of what schooling can look like when technology is used as a vehicle for inspiration, motivation, and reform.

Which STELAR/ITEST resources do you find most valuable?

I really enjoy the in-person gatherings.  Every time I attend the ITEST summits I make connections with colleagues that develop into meaningful partnerships that build capacity in my programs and find new colleagues to partner with in dissemination efforts.

How has the ITEST community supported you in your work?

I have been with the ITEST community for over 8 years now.  I was a very young PI when I received my first ITEST award, and I did not exactly know where to begin with dissemination strategies and network building.  The staff and networking opportunities, [from both] the ITEST LRC and now STELAR, has been instrumental to my growth as a professional.  I have always felt comfortable picking up the phone and calling the STELAR staff when I had a question or program idea that I wanted to talk through.  The support they have offered me and my projects has been one of the greatest benefits of being awarded an ITEST grant.

Can you share how your ITEST project impacts youth?

Energy for ME is a community-based project designed to help students and the communities they live in recognize their immediate and unique energy challenges, and provides motivations for finding creative solutions for reducing energy consumption by making smarter, more sustainable energy decisions.  Throughout the project students have generated real measurable changes in their communities’ energy habits reducing over $90,000 in energy savings.  Student have also significantly increased their interest in STEM careers, environmental behaviors and awareness, and STEM content knowledge related to data literacy and energy while creating the change they want to see in the world.