Local Women's Group Teaches Solar to Youth

Portland Oregon Women in Renewables (POWER) (IG: @powerportland) is a local professional group comprised of over 50 members, founded by Kaitlin Borstelmann and representative of every role found in the solar and energy efficiency sectors, the engineering side of hydro, and the policy and finance side of wind. We welcome new members and their diverse perspectives!

The organization was designed as a networking and mentoring hub. We help women find and strengthen their voices in the industry.

As a mentoring project this summer POWER volunteered to help strengthen and diversify the next generation of our workforce and to build confidence in young girls by orchestrating three Solar Summer Camps.

Laura Klement, Laura Nicholson, Nicole Weinstock, Nicole Clock, Lulu Mosman, Cayleigh Allen, Heather Bright, Kaitlin Borstelmann and Chaun McQueen were very involved in the planning and carrying out of the two summer camps in conjunction with Girls Build, Inc (http://www.girlsbuildpdx.org/).

Cayleigh Allen led and Kaitlin Borstelmann assisted the ChickTech solar summer camp (http://portland.chicktech.org/).

Over the three summer camps, 96 girls (ages 8 to 16), actively engaged in solar education activities. They learned how solar cells and electrical circuits work, installed racking and solar panels on a training roof, and soldered and designed their own solar USB chargers to take home. Through the summer camps, the girls received strong messaging that renewables, engineering and the trades are open paths to success for them to explore.

The benefits were felt on both sides -- the girls had a fantastic time, many saying that the solar workshops were their favorite of the week (out of all the GirlsBuild workshops of the week), laughing and smiling, asking smart questions. And the volunteers were given a big heaping dose of hope and happiness for the next generation of women in the renewable industry. We live in an exciting time!

POWER intends to continue the summer camps next year, possibly even creating an afterschool program during the school year (many industry members expressed serious interest in this for their daughters at the OSEIA + WISE event on August 17). We are not yet a 501c3, but intend to begin that process in the near future. For now, we are working to receive in-kind donations from vendors (assist in their marketing) and need support to grow our social media presence. The more followers and likes we have on our Instagram: @powerportland, the greater our chances of creating more educational projects for young girls (and other exciting local projects that help our industry).

Jeremy Ross