“I loved my Iron & Earth work placement, it was exactly what I wanted,” says Rae Comeau.
Rae is a recent graduate of our Net-Zero Pathways (NZP) program. NZP is designed to help people break into the clean energy field, by providing participants with training, upskilling, and internship opportunities in the renewable sector and connecting renewable energy employers with motivated workers from across Canada.
Following one-week of virtual training in employability skills such as learning how to craft resumes, apply for jobs and prepare for job interviews, Rae was placed in a six-week internship on June 12th, with the Foundation for Environmental Stewardship. The Foundation is a youth-led, not-for-profit organization that works to create a sustainable future by empowering youth and telling powerful, effective stories through training, education, advocacy, and mentorship.
During her placement she made lesson plans that could be used by teachers on how to prepare vegan meals and design net-zero buildings, as well as making sustainable changes at the school level to help tackle climate change. These included teaching students how to redesign their school to be more energy-efficient and involved strategies such as approaching their school board to propose installing high-efficiency windows in the school.
The experience was a highly successful one and led to her being offered a two week extension, where she researched which schools the Foundation might offer financial help through its Charitable Partnerships program. Rae found her internship to be ideal in combining her passion for teaching and fighting climate change and extremely useful for her future teaching career. “I got to be very creative, and it gave me actual practical knowledge of what lesson plans require.”
Rae is originally from Picton, Ontario, where she grew up seeing solar panels around the community and holds out great hope for the renewable energy revolution. She enjoyed the NZP program and learned a lot from it, whether it was hearing about renewable energy career stories or learning how renewable energy, like solar and wind works. “The (NZP) program showed us that the renewable energy field is getting bigger, and I love seeing the money that's being invested into it,” she says.
She's now completing her education degree at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, where she draws up lesson plans on topics like solar and offshore wind farms, and also invites engineers to come into the school to make presentations on related topics. She loves being able to help students learn and “get them to the place they need to be”, by customizing her teaching style according to each student's strengths and styles, rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach.
Always passionate about the environment and climate change, after graduating from Lakehead, Rae plans on getting into teaching about environment-related issues, or failing that, into other fields that involve environmental education. Eventually, she plans to get her Masters or Phd in teaching. In her personal life, Rae tries her best to reduce her climate change impacts and to be as responsible as possible for the environment while reducing her waste as much as possible. “I recycle, compost, only use single use plastic when necessary, up-cycle clothing and stay up to date on ways to reduce waste in my life!” she says.
Our Net Zero Pathways program is expanding, with new training sessions and work placements being added all the time. The next virtual one-week training session starts August 28th. Register by the 24th to start your journey into the exciting world of renewable energy and discover a new future for yourself and your community!
Iron & Earth’s training programs are funded in part by the Government of Canada's Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.