Pioneering the Local Electricity Movement
“I joined our local food movement some years ago to help reduce ‘food mile’ energy,” says Kankakee District 111 middle grade teacher Christopher Shoup. “Now I am pioneering a local electricity movement. I believe people across our state, our nation and ultimately across our planet must consider from what sources is their local electricity generated. And once those local electricity sources are identified, I want people to adopt a view that electricity is a precious commodity. My fellowship project is designed to educate District 111’s learners and staff on our local electricity, and to then inspire mindful habits and active reduction of our local electrical usage.”
Christopher and his students (84.5 percent of whom are from economically disadvantaged families) maintain a classroom where resource reduction is a daily topic. They drink from reusable water bottles, collect previously used school papers to create “green reams” of second use copy and printer paper, compost, and manage a school-wide recycling program. He sees his fellowship as an opportunity to establish a broader, district-wide resource reduction project.
“This is not something I can do alone,” says Christopher. “Engaging and involving district students, staff, administrators, our school board and even our local government will build a foundation for success.” His fellowship project includes a partnership with the Earth Stewards nonprofit to introduce students to local electricity and to help establish reduction methods. There will be presentations by scientists and representatives from nonrenewable and renewable energy sectors, along with field trips to a local coal plant, a wind farm, and the Smart Home at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.
An additional project partnership with Kankakee Community College (KCC) will build the groundwork for and foster a relationship between the college’s sustainability department and District 111. The Illinois Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) will also become a valuable district partner, completing free energy assessments and energy monitoring for district buildings.
“Currently, there is no district-wide initiative that encourages energy education, reduction and savings. I believe in our district’s ability to become more engaged. I hope District 111’s success will become a template for other area districts to undertake similar actions. My ultimate goal is to link my project to the science outcomes in the national Common Core Standards. I foresee the potential of an inspired, energy mindful and energy reductive nation.”