ANEEE Partner Spotlight:
Kusilvak Career Academy

The Alaska Network for Energy Education and Employment regularly partners with Kusilvak Career Academy to promote clean energy career pathways to students from the Lower Yukon School District.

Our recent energy efficiency day at KCA not only taught students about how to conserve energy through building design and individual actions, but also helped the school identify and implement energy-saving upgrades on their building and led to a year-round energy education teaching collaboration.

ANEEE and KCA work together to build Alaska’s future energy workforce and improve outcomes for students from rural Alaska.

“A Five-Star Place of Learning”

A one-of-a-kind educational model, KCA opened up in a renovated hotel in Anchorage’s Spenard neighborhood to reimagine how to deliver quality, hands-on technical education to rural Alaskan students. “We took a one-and-half star hotel here in Anchorage and turned it into what I like to call a 5-star place of learning,” said KCA Director Conrad Woodhead.

The campus offers career and technical education and dual credit for students from ten villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta through partnerships with King Tech High School, University of Alaska, Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, Alaska Middle College School and other institutions.

KCA offers four sessions to 11th and 12th graders every year, which gives students exposure to technical training and education while maintaining their community and cultural connections. Rather than removing students from their homes for the full school year, like some traditional residential boarding schools, KCA allows students to pick which session or sessions to participate in. Each session involves different career and technical experiences, from electrical wiring to aviation. 

KCA students work together on an energy use scavenger hunt.

A KCA student measures and records the energy required to use a strand of holiday lights.

The entryway at KCA now features upgrades like new windows and fresh paint.

Becoming an Energy Star

In the spring of 2023, ANEEE Director Chris McConnell worked with Director Woodhead to arrange an on-campus energy education lesson and energy audit job shadow. Students learned energy usage and efficiency concepts, like how heat moves and how much energy different appliances use, from REAP’s Education Director Colleen Fisk. Afterwards, they did a walkthrough of KCA’s campus with energy auditor Jim Fowler from Energy Audits of Alaska, who pointed out the details he looks for during an audit to lower a building’s energy costs. 

During the audit, students also learned about much-needed energy efficiency jobs throughout the state, like HVAC technicians and facilities management. KCA students were then invited to attend the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers conference in Anchorage. The ASHRAE conference screened the short video above to highlight KCA students’ interactions with building science professionals.

Then, in the summer, KCA students and staff rolled up their sleeves and used the findings of their energy audit to perform weatherization work on the school’s entryway. Eight to 12 students took OSHA 10 training and tackled four weeks of construction work that included upgrading five outdated wooden windows, filling a gap between an entryway wall and its concrete pad, weatherizing doors, installing new carpet and painting. 

“I had kids out here working in groups, cutting, measuring, putting in and finishing,” said LieuDell Goldsberry, KCA’s principal and head of facilities. “It’s much better than what was in here … but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.” 

Year-Round Energy Education Collaboration

For the 2023–2024 school year, ANEEE is teaming up with REAP’s energy educators and two other science education organizations, Alaska Resource Education and Teaching Through Technology, to deliver a full year of STEM and energy education for KCA students. 

Session One focuses on community connections to energy, and teaches students about the pros and cons of different sources of energy and the role it plays in rural Alaskan communities. Session Two will be a primer on home energy efficiency, and will help students develop awareness of their energy use and instill energy conservation habits. Session Three, which will kick off in early 2024, will teach sustainable resource systems and include a hands-on sustainable design project. And in the spring, Session Four will give students a deep-dive into energy careers in Alaska through field trips, guest speakers and career-readiness lessons. 

ANEEE is proud to partner with Kusilvak Career Academy in nurturing the next generation of Alaska’s homegrown clean energy workforce.

ANEEE Network Coordinator Jenny Starrs helps two KCA students with a solar panel activity.

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By Jenny StarrsSeptember 26th, 2023