Did you know that Openlands helped shape the Renew Conservation Corps legislation with Senator Dick Durbin, which would create green jobs for young people and result in revamped infrastructure, reforestation, and ecosystem restoration? Openlands’ President and CEO Jerry Adelmann was interviewed for this article in the Chicago Tribune about how a new Conservation Corps, included in President Biden’s infrastructure plan, would mimic President Roosevelt’s New Deal program, which employed 3 million men and left a legacy across the country in parks, preserves, and national parks.
Tag: Green Jobs
Openlands Talks About A New Civilian Conservation Corps on Wisconsin Public Radio
Openlands’ President and CEO Jerry Adelmann and Vice President of Community Conservation Daniella Pereira were interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio, where they discussed how new Civilian Conservation Corps legislation can put people back to work, fight climate change, and connect people to nature.
The Arborist Registered Apprenticeship Program
The Arborist Registered Apprenticeship (ARA) is 3-year, paid job training opportunity for individuals looking for a career in arboriculture. Openlands, the program sponsor, administers the program in partnership with the Department of Labor and local workforce development agencies. Openlands also coordinates with tree care companies and industry professionals across the Chicago region to provide training, create viable career pathways, and improve recruitment, retention and diversity in urban forestry. Program participants are provided hands-on job training and experience, while gaining credentials and knowledge on the many opportunities for arborists.
Building a Green Workforce
By providing entry-level job opportunities, the ARA program is training the next generation of urban forestry professionals. Combatting climate change should simultaneously build resilient infrastructure, improve community health and safety, and create economic opportunities for all people. Through the ARA, Chicago can lead and establish a career pipeline for all communities to access green jobs.
The demand for qualified workforce is high, with 69% of employers reporting difficulty hiring arborists and more than 50% willing to pay a premium for better skilled arborists. Most occupations provide excellent entry level job opportunities that also have little barriers to entry.
The top employers in the arboriculture field are commercial tree care companies, government municipalities, and utility companies and the tree care industry have historically struggled to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. Additionally, as a growing industry, not enough people think about forestry as a job, let alone understand the opportunities for career advancement throughout their lifetime. The ARA aims to hire and recruit from communities that represent Chicago’s diverse population, prioritize hiring un- or under-employed applicants, and work with industry professionals on advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in arboriculture.
“This program has put me in a very good position to be an arborist and acquire new skills that will allow me to better branch out into arboriculture. I have learned so much about tree establishment and maintenance as well as more advanced topics like climbing and tree removal.”Lisa Mende, 2021 Cohort
The application for the 2023 cohort is now closed. Please sign up for hiring updates for the 2024 cohort.
Clean Energy Jobs Act: Why it’s important, what nature-based solutions can contribute, and how you can support it now
By Andrew Szwak, Manager of Governmental Affairs
Across the globe, we’ve come to an economic halt with the disturbing rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. And with that halt, news coverage has noted the corollary drop in climate emissions.
While emissions are down today, the havoc this pandemic has wreaked on our health, communities, jobs, and nation is immense. It is also a blow to our global climate reduction goals, with the potential to lose sight of our commitments. Instead, we must rise to this challenge and rethink how to drive our economy and meet climate objectives with nature-based approaches in mind.
At Openlands, we have put strategic focus on dealing with climate change and the nature-based solutions that can mitigate it. Nature-based solutions can provide 37% of the carbon reductions the world needs to comply with the Paris Agreement, and yet it receives only 1-2% of the investment.
In Illinois, one of the biggest climate change initiatives has coalesced around state legislation called the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). A diverse coalition of labor supporters, utility groups, and environmental organizations wrote CEJA to address four fundamental priorities:
- Transition all energy generation to renewable sources by 2050,
- Remove all carbon from energy generation by 2030,
- Take 1 million gas and diesel vehicles off the roads, and
- Promote jobs and equitable economic opportunity in the process.
These are ambitious goals, and necessary to ensure thriving communities, economies, and ecologies in the future. But we must ensure that nature-based jobs and economies are included. Our ability to advance nature-based solutions gives Openlands and conservation organizations like us a key role within the global movement to curb the climate crisis, and serve as important tools in Illinois’ arsenal to meet these ambitious goals.
So how should conservation and nature-based solutions fit into CEJA?
1.Renewable energy and nature-based solutions need new job training opportunities.
The transition to renewable energy requires technicians and project managers who know these new technologies and the regulations that govern them. Similarly, increasing nature-based solutions demands more ecologists, landscape architects, engineers, hydrologists, and agriculturalists with specialized knowledge of how to install and maintain them. CEJA plans to create job training hubs for individuals to learn renewable energy skills. We are requesting that these hubs also include opportunities to learn green infrastructure installation and maintenance, urban forestry, regenerative farming practices, and other essential skills to increase nature-based climate solutions.
2. CEJA authorizes local governments to create Community Energy and Climate Plans.
These plans will guide investments in renewable energy, transportation, and workforce development. They provide excellent opportunities to embed natural climate solutions into the suite of tools that Illinois communities will use to combat climate change. Rural communities in particular will be well-positioned to prioritize workforce training and funding for natural climate solutions into their efforts. Consequently, Openlands is advocating for mandatory consideration of natural resources and natural climate solutions in these Community Energy and Climate Plans. We also hope to use these plans to build momentum for more concerted efforts to incentivize nature-based solutions.
3. CEJA incentivizes new renewable energy installations, such as community solar and wind facilities.
Energy generated by these facilities will need connections to the electricity grid. Unfortunately, renewable energy in other states has followed dirty energy’s lead by targeting public lands for transmission and siting of new projects. Protected public lands, on which nature-based solutions are so abundant, should never be sacrificed to accommodate additional, and often redundant, energy infrastructure. Openlands is advocating strongly for CEJA to include better safeguards against destruction of protected lands related to new energy projects.
We are working hard to align CEJA more closely with the interests of conservation. WE NEED YOU to support our work with your own advocacy. Lend your voice to passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act by contacting your state legislators using this form and ask them to include nature-based climate solutions in the final bill.