The experience at SLI was a learning experience combination of soft skills (learning how to interact/live/work with people from all walks of life), technical skills (taking PV100 and PV200 course and then taking the PVEL certification exam) and organizational skills (working at a non-profit, putting on a major fundraising event etc.).
This experience will be tremendously helpful, not only for the skills I gained, but for the awesome network that I was plugged into, as I go on to work with African Solar Rise, a non-profit helping to electrify Africa.
I was an intern at the Solar Living Institute from Sept 06'- Jan 07'. I had a great experience at the SLI and could fill out many pages on my experiences there, but this is a "where are you now" piece so I should stick to the topic. Right now I am living in Baltimore, MD and I work in Beltsville, MD for a solar energy services company called SunEdison. I'm working here as a project engineer, designing and developing large photovoltaic power plants that are mostly based out of Canada."

You may ask yourself, wow sounds cool, I wonder if the SLI helped him out along this career path. The answer is a resounding "definitely". I'm from New Jersey, so the east coast is home to me, but I did start to fall in love with west coast living, before I got a great opportunity with this company in Maryland. After SLI I moved to Sacramento and worked for SunTechnics, another solar installation company. However, I met the girl who hooked me up with that job while I was interning. Sacramento was great and so was that last job. Unfortunately, things were not looking very good for SunTechnics at the start of this year, and when this job opportunity presented itself I decided to head back, where I could be a short drive to my family (as apposed to a 7 hour flight). My family played a significant role in my decision to head back east, as they are a very important part of my life."

I can honestly say that the life lessons and experiences I had in Hopland, and with the Solar Living Institute, were as valuable if, not more so than anything I learned in college. I would recommend this experience to anyone who has an interest in sustainable lifestyles; whether your already into organic gardening and cob construction or simply curious about a way of life less toxic to yourself, others, and our environment in general. It was a short time in my life that I will take with me always, and those are the rare experiences that are worth having.

I am honored to have the opportunity to share with you my great admiration and gratitude for the Solar Living Institute, as well as my enthusiasm for its future growth and development. I'm certain that my account would bear much in common with those of thousands of others who have directly benefited from the Solar Living Institute's programs. SLI is an extraordinary place that inspires passion, hope and hard work, and it has launched many, many careers and commitments across an incredible range of environmental work.

In the autumn and winter of 2004-2005 I was fortunate to spend time at SLI as both a workshop student and as an intern. Before making the commitment to the program, I researched my options extensively. I can say without any reservations at all that the six-month period that I spent working and learning in Hopland remains among the most fertile and significant of my career – in fact, in many respects, it marked the beginning of it!

Apart from direct access to expertise, one of the greatest assets that SLI affords its interns is the ability to tailor their work and learning experiences according to their own interests, talents and goals. This made all the difference in my time there because it allowed me to discover a vocation that I only vaguely knew existed before I arrived. My current position as the outreach and program coordinator for a green arts and education center in New York requires that I juggle many different responsibilities throughout my day – curating lectures, organizing events, managing press and communications, conducting research, etc. It was under the superb guidance of SLI staff and instructors that I tried many of these hats on for the first time, and discovered that they fit. As a result, I was able to develop clear goals and gain insight into what area of environmental work that I might best direct my energy and skills.

The Solar Living Institute is already an important hub of knowledge and learning. However, provided with additional resources to continue and expand its programs, I am convinced that SLI's contribution to sustainable education could become truly extraordinary in its reach. I thank you for your attention.

Without a doubt, were it not for the Solar Living Institute, I would not be sitting here right now, in Guatemala City of all places, in the office of the Taiwan Agricultural Technical Mission for Guatemala. Tomorrow morning, I shall follow the Mission's bamboo expert to the Pacific coast of Guatemala to learn more about the Taiwan Mission's work of maximizing the potential of bamboo (which most people are surprised to learn grows endemically throughout Central and South America) as a sustainable, highly renewable (1) wood alternative, (2) income source for the rural poor, (3) low-cost building material, and (4) means of reforestation and carbon sequestration. This particular bamboo expert, Mr. Lin, has already shared his knowledge during a tenure in Costa Rica, which now runs a government-funded program to build 1000 low-income bamboo houses per year. I have been working as a volunteer at the Taiwan Mission in Belize for the past month, and I am writing a "master plan¨ for developing a bamboo industry with similar economic and environmental benefits for Belizeans.


The Solar Living Institute is a 501 (c)(3) educational nonprofit organization offering instruction in solar training and sustainable practices.  Founded in 1998, we have been providing professional solar training and a wide array of sustainability courses for over 15 years. Our courses are taught by experienced practitioners who bring years of real world knowledge to the classroom with a focus on helping students prepare for job opportunities, start businesses, and live more sustainably.

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