Woman Breaks Barriers to Achieve Dream of Working in Wind Energy
By Meredith MacDonald
In September of 2010, I set foot on my first wind project as a security guard. I must admit I had set foot on wind farms prior to this, but just as a gawker who wanted to see the giant components up close.
My job on that first wind farm involved looking after a substation which had been a hot target for copper thieves. Even though I mostly worked long night shifts, I enjoyed the work a great deal. I worked the odd Saturday day shift with the linemen and construction workers building the substation and watched them with growing interest. They treated each other like family. They worked hard. They were proud of what they had accomplished at the end of their day.
I worked on two more wind projects as a security guard, getting to know iron workers, electricians, crane operators, turbine technicians and project managers. My interest in a job on the construction side of a wind farm grew. As much as I enjoyed security work, the pay was minimal and there was no foreseeable career growth. I really wanted to be out there, or rather up there, working on wind turbines, the substations or really anything involving wind energy. The problem was that I was scared. Scared to voice my wish to become a construction worker. Scared that as a woman, I couldn’t do that work or shouldn’t do that work. It was silly; but that little negative voice in my head kept me from making a move.
That little voice persisted until 2013. I discovered a group called Women of Wind Energy (WoWE) and decided to join. Even though I was just a security guard, I was working on wind farms and decided that made me part of the wind industry. My husband and I traveled to Toronto at the end of January for a WoWE meet-up. I was incredibly nervous to be walking in to an event filled with professional women who worked in wind. After all, I was just a security guard and didn’t think too highly of what I did. I was greeted warmly by the head of the Toronto chapter and all my nervousness melted away. Everyone I met that night was warm, encouraging, enthusiastic and genuine. My dream of working in the construction of wind farms didn’t seem so unrealistic anymore.
I left Toronto feeling encouraged and validated. I felt that my goal was attainable, and that I could do whatever I set my mind to. I tore down all the walls I had built in my head that were stopping me from doing what I truly wanted to do. I purchased tickets to a Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) networking event in Toronto at the end of February. Once again, my husband and I traveled to Toronto and I nervously stepped in to a room filled with the who’s who of the wind industry. I met as many people as I could and exchanged business cards and good conversation. When I left that evening, I was hopeful but unsure if anything would come of my efforts.
A week or so after the CanWEA event, I received an email from a gentleman at Surespan Wind Energy Services. We exchanged a few emails back and forth, and eventually I traveled back Toronto way for a face to face meeting and interview. I left with an offer of employment as a wind turbine technician, working on the quality assurance team for Surespan. The project I would be working on was located in my area, with one of the turbines being built right behind our house!
I was ecstatic beyond words. My dreams had become reality. I had done it! I could hardly stand the wait until I started my new career in June that year.
Fast forward to the present. I have been working for Surespan for 7 months now. This is the first time in my life that I have honestly been able to say that I love my job. Yes, I work long hours. My personal best was just shy of 80 hours in a week. Yes, I wake up early. 5 am every day. Yes, there are lots of challenging aspects… but the feeling of accomplishment that I get from meeting those challenges makes it all worth it.
I feel incredibly blessed and grateful to get up each day and go to a job that I’m passionate about. I now understand that feeling of camaraderie and family that I saw way back on my first wind project.
You may be wondering what’s so great about working in wind and why I love it so much. I’ll put together some highlights in point form:
- Better than a gym membership. You get paid to work out, and you can’t flake out on those workouts.
- Not stuck in a cubicle. Your office is out in the field; sometimes 330 feet in the air.
- Amazing co-workers. They become like family. Having a bad day? Guaranteed someone will have you laughing in no time.
- Dynamic. Every day brings new challenges. You are always learning, always adapting. Always becoming better.
- Being part of something bigger. Helping the world transition from fossil fuel addiction to renewable sources of energy.
There are so many more things that I love about my job. The sense of pride, the independence, the accountability, the problem solving … and on and on. If nothing else, I hope this blog encourages everyone out there to pursue their dreams. DON’T discount yourself from anything before you even try. DON’T convince yourself that you can’t do what you dream of.
Be courageous and take a leap of faith. Decide that you are good enough, strong enough and smart enough. Your gender does not determine what careers you can or cannot have. You are your own limiting factor.
Break down your walls.
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
- Climate Crisis: What We Can Learn From Indigenous Traditions ... ›
- 10 Organizations Honoring Native People on Thanksgiving ... ›
- Biden Vows to Ax Keystone XL if Elected - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
- Your Guide to Talking With Kids of All Ages About Climate Change ... ›
- 7 of the Best Ted Talks About Climate Change - EcoWatch ›
- Katharine Hayhoe Reveals Surprising Ways to Talk About Climate ... ›
An extremely rare North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead off the North Carolina coast on Friday.
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="24c36ab7f041f96875677ba1e9dc1944"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/CapeLookoutNPS/posts/3608024915884969"></div></div>
- 411 North Atlantic Right Whales Remain: This Solution Could Help ... ›
- Sixth North Atlantic Right Whale Found Dead Prompts Concern ... ›
- First North Atlantic Right Whale Calf of the Season Spotted off ... ›