The smell of fresh baked cookies wafted through the maze of booths. The miniature wind turbine slowly creaked as it was set in motion by the morning breeze. The sound of children giggling and begging to answer an energy challenge could be heard far and wide. Energy Corps arrived right in time for festival season in Butte, America. Between explaining energy efficiency measures at Dust to Dazzle, baking cookies in the solar oven at the Folk Festival, and racing solar cars at the Clean Energy Fair it has been an eventful summer.
The highlight of festival season, however, was one family of four who met us at the folk festival and came to every event that we held thereafter. The kids loved the solar cars that we had to race, wanted to know everything about the solar oven that baked countless batches of cookies, and not only picked our brains apart but taught us a few things too! The parents poured over our resources on residential applications of renewable energy and took one of every brochure that we had. The following weekend they arrived bright and early at the Montana Renewable Energy Association’s Clean Energy Fair. They said how excited they had been to learn that they could build their own solar ovens and solar cars and cleared their schedule so they could attend. “Wow,” I thought, “they are the reason that I don’t mind giving up nearly four weekends in a row.”
Just because the summer is winding down does not mean that our schedule is following suit. Rachael and I licked 1200 envelopes, made nearly one hundred phone calls, and have compiled a schedule for the 9/11 Weatherization Service Event. From people who have lived here for over 50 years to people who just moved to town, Butte residents were ecstatic to hear that we were offering to install a light weatherization kit for free. After weeks of planning, Energy Corps members from around the state gathered in Butte to participate in a three day long service event. We began on 9/11 at the food bank, where we cleaned and sorted 372lbs of vegetables to distribute to the food bank recipients.
That afternoon we began weatherizing homes. In two and a half days we completed thirty low income and elderly homes. It was incredible to meet the residents who we had spoken to over the phone and learn their stories. We drilled in weatherstripping and door sweeps, meticulously placed plastic over single paned windows, installed outlet gaskets, and switched out old faucets and shower heads for high efficiency models. After getting a taste of weatherizing, I can’t wait to send out the next mailing list and continue to warm up people’s homes while they warm my heart.
Eileen Munsch graduated with a B.S. from SUNY Geneseo. Eileen went on to volunteer with the Student Conservation Association and AmeriCorps NCCC. After this, she worked for the YMCA of the Rockies as an outdoor educator, The Oregon Department of Forestry as a Wildfire Suppression Specialist and The Nature Conservancy as a Fire Management Technician. She is looking forward to her year of service with NCAT as a weatherization and energy educator.