As a Bay Area native who moved away from the nest for five years, I became aware of how important it was to involve my community with the environmental crisis happening worldwide. I decided to make it my mission to involve my community in combating climate change at the local level. Being a climate leader is important to me because I am a first-generation woman born in America. I grew up in a low-income area where being aware of our environmental impact was not a priority. It was important for me to become a Leader in Field Training (LIFT) with Rising Sun Energy Center because it gave me more experience in directly communicating with my community about the importance of saving energy. I was able to communicate that saving energy not only benefits the planet, but these savings can benefit families. Working at Rising Sun allowed me to meet people of all different backgrounds and cultures. It really opened my eyes to the different ways environmental importance should be communicated. I’m hoping that through this experience I can gain the skills to be able to communicate scientific facts in an effective way to a diverse range of communities.

This job has also helped me understand how important it is to empower individuals. I’ve learned how to enable confidence in others. I’ve managed to invoke interest in joining workforce programs. I had an experience with a client where she expressed to me how much she enjoyed having me perform all of the water and light measure installations in her home. She mentioned that she doesn’t typically see women taking the initiative to do jobs like this, where we directly install light bulbs, showerheads, and kitchen aerators. I didn’t realize how unique the positions in the California Youth Energy Services (CYES) program were until this moment. Young women and men are sent out to service homes using wrenches, pliers, step stools, and other tools. We speak to community residents about the importance of conserving energy and water and that’s a huge responsibility for young people trying to make a difference in the world.

Generally, young people, especially women, often struggle in having the confidence in applying for certain jobs and after seeing firsthand how empowering positions like these are, I hope to work with a company or organization that values empowering their employees and building their skill set. I look forward to continuing to help the Bay Area rise by empowering us to have a stronger sense of connection to nature and the environment through educating and encouraging citizens to have a sense of responsibility for it.

Written by: Felisa Vallejo
Serving the Fremont, Newark, and Union City communities