Four years ago when Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) began their green programming efforts the college didn’t have the fiscal resources to fund the programming, workforce development and infrastructure envisioned by college leadership so they did the next best thing – created a virtual green center. LLCC from a small virtual center has been able to craft the Green Center into an umbrella housing the College’s major systemic green programming efforts including becoming a leader in the movement to support a local food economy throughout the state through development of new credit and non-credit curriculum and training faculty in ways to integrate sustainability across the curriculum via the Greening Your Curriculum program.
When developing a strategic plan and vision for sustainability programming on campus, LLCC chose to take a systemic approach covering four main areas: campus, curriculum, careers, and community. In many cases, these areas overlap, as the college strives to involve students and employees as well as community organizations and industry experts in its quest to green campus operations, integrate sustainability across the credit- and non-credit curriculum, and train students for the green jobs of today and tomorrow.
The Green Center’s online space was launched in 2009 through a grant obtained by LLCC’s Workforce Development department from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and Ameren. The Green Center is the nucleus of the college’s work on sustainability as it relates not only to the campus, but also to workforce development and the community. Through the Green Center, LLCC’s commitment to sustainability includes its representation in a number of community-based organizations, including the Green Business Network of Springfield, Springfield Area Home Builders Association Green Committee, Springfield Area Local Food Task Force, Illinois Stewardship Alliance Grassroots Policy Committee, Earth Springfield Event Planning Committee, and others. Additionally, the Green Center serves as a clearinghouse for green jobs career development and information on community rebates, grants, tax incentives, and funding opportunities.
With the leadership and vision of LLCC President Charlotte J. Warren, the virtual center afforded college stakeholders the flexibility to envision a creative and innovative strategic plan to support green workforce development in the region. Additionally, President Warren became involved with the President’s Steering Committee and the creation of the Illinois Community College Sustainability Network (ICCSN) (now the Illinois Green Economy Network). Through the college’s work with ICCSN and President Warren’s leadership, LLCC was able to obtain funding for a full-time Green Center manager as well as funds for the Green Center itself.
The college’s campus projects include implementing more sustainable purchasing policies; increasing recycling; decreasing water and chemical use in landscaping; implementing green cleaning techniques and products; returning five acres of prime real estate on campus to native prairie; and the construction of a proposed LEED Silver certified building on campus.
The new 80,000-square-foot Workforce Careers Center (opening January 2012) will be the largest workforce training facility in central Illinois and will be the home of an expanded culinary arts and hospitality management program that includes training in green restaurant practices, composting, and the use of local foods. “This new, state-of-the-art building will allow LLCC to better serve the workforce needs of our communities,” said President Warren. “We will offer new and expanded academic and workforce programming and training using the latest technology.” The Workforce Careers Center will house 10 career/technical and workforce training programs and classes, including a renewable energies lab and a state-of-the-art culinary facility. Students in the local foods agriculture program will grow produce that will be used in culinary classes.
The college’s curriculum projects include becoming a leader in the movement across the state to support local food economies through development of new credit and non-credit curriculums and by training faculty to integrate sustainability via the Greening Your Curriculum program.
Existing agriculture courses have been augmented to include local foods and sustainability topics. Through the Community Education Department, LLCC Culinary Arts program staff developed new programs and workshops for adults and community members to address theoretical and practical knowledge. Workshops created include:
Professional coursework includes:
In support of a statewide initiative aimed at increasing the percentage of locally-produced consumed food as an economic, health, and environmental benefit to the state, LLCC created new vocational certificate program curricula, which includes the following courses:
LLCC plans to provide hands on practical experience for students with the development of a sustainability demonstration and education site. This site, located adjacent to the new Workforce Careers Center, will include a green model home, a wind turbine, and local foods-related installations, including a greenhouse, high tunnels, a community and local foods/culinary program garden, and a professional composting system, all surrounded by sustainable landscaping. The main feature of the site will be a green home, a project that will pair students from workforce and non-credit programs across campus with community partners to design and build a structure that showcases green building materials, techniques, and technologies. A demonstration and education site of this nature has yet to be constructed at any community college in Illinois, so this site will not only serve a variety of beneficial uses to the Lincoln Land campus, but also will be a model of sustainability education best practices across the state.
The college’s careers projects include training related to weatherization, energy efficiency, and green building for industry professionals, and developing renewable energy and green construction workforce certificate programs.
The Workforce Development department relies heavily on local experts when planning new programs at the college. Currently, the department is creating two new certificate programs – a Renewable Energy Workforce Certificate and a Green Construction Workforce Certificate – drawing on the expertise of industry partners. The project began with the establishment of an advisory committee made up of college administrators, staff and faculty, industry-related contractors and business owners, association members, utility company professionals, and union representatives. Goals for the committee focus on the curriculum development in the areas of wind, solar, and geothermal for the renewable energies and green carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and ecosystems for the green construction. Using skills sets identified by members helps ensure student success upon completion of the program.
The college’s community projects include community workshops on a variety of sustainability-related topics including sustainable lawns and landscaping, renewable energy options for homeowners, green business, local food preservation, nutrition education, a community garden, school gardens in local elementary schools, and community outreach.
In 2009, the Workforce Development department worked with the local workforce investment office to offer a local foods program for area youth. The program incorporated academic skills such as math, reading, and science along with hands-on training like caring for a one-third acre garden. The college worked with many of the local food pantries and bread lines to raise and produce food that could be used at their facilities. This garden space is now a community garden for LLCC employees and their families. The Green Center also partnered with the local PBS affiliate to produce programs on organic food and canning which aired this fall.
Several years ago, LLCC began its sustainability and green workforce programming with excellent ideas, minimal funding, and the strong belief that it is possible to provide depth and breadth across stakeholder communities with thoughtful planning, creative and innovative programming, and college-wide support. Their journey, which began with a modest investment in a virtual center, strong institutional leadership, vision, and multi-year planning, has allowed LLCC to creatively engage college and community stakeholders to fund, support and expand innovative green workforce training in central Illinois.
For more information:
Dr. Judy Jozaitis
Vice President, Workforce Development and Community Education
Green Manager, Workforce Development
- CLICK HERE for The Green Center
- CLICK HERE for the Illinois Green Economy Network, a Community College Partnership