Women Working in Environmental Protection Teleconference

September 29, 2010; 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET

 

 

Coordinator:           Welcome, and thank you for standing by.  At this time all participants will be in a listen-only mode until the question and answer session of the call.

 

                              To ask a question at that time please press star 1.  Today's conference is being recorded.  If you have any objections you may disconnect at this time.

 

                              I would now like to turn the call over to Sarah Miller.  You may begin.

 

Sarah Miller:           Thanks, Daniela.  My name is Sarah Miller from the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau.  And I want to thank everyone for joining us today for the Women Working in Environmental Protection teleconference.

 

                              This is the Women's Bureau's sixth in a series of seven teleconferences for workforce practitioners, designed to offer information and an exchange of ideas to better connect women with green jobs training and green employment.

 

                              This area of workforce development is an important part of preparing our nation to be competitive in the new economy.

 

                              If you didn't have the opportunity to participate in the previous teleconferences, you may visit the Women's Bureau Web site at www.dol.gov/wb to review the topics and materials.

 

                              And it is now my pleasure to introduce the Director of the Women's Bureau, Sara Manzano-Díaz.  Director Manzano-Díaz has spent her career in public service, advocating on behalf of working class families, women, and girls.

 

                              She has more than 25 years of federal, state and judicial experience.  And we're fortunate that she is now leading the Bureau's efforts to promote green career pathways for women.  Director Manzano-Díaz.

 

Sara Manzano-Díaz:     Thank you so much Ms. Miller.  Welcome everyone to today's conference call on Women Working in Environmental Protection.  This, as Sarah said, is our sixth teleconference call that the Women's Bureau has hosted this year on women in green jobs.

 

                              We're very excited that you're all here with us today.  We have an impressive group of speakers who have much insight to share with us about their experience.  And we really appreciate that very much.

 

                              I want to welcome you on behalf of our Secretary, Secretary Hilda Solis.  And her vision is that everyone should have a good job.  She is fully supportive of working women.

 

                              And many of you will remember that she participated in our women working in alternative energy [teleconference] in August.  Some of you may not know that the Women's Bureau is a jewel within the Federal Government.

 

                              It was created by Congress in 1920, two months before women actually had the right to vote.  The Women's Bureau is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.

 

                              And in June, our First Lady, Michelle Obama, spoke at our 90th anniversary celebration.  And the President actually issued a proclamation with regard to our good work [Editor’s Note: See the Proclamation here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-proclamation-90th-anniversary-department-labor-womens-bureau and the First Lady’s remarks here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-first-lady-womens-bureau-90th-anniversary-ev].  

 

                              After 90 years, there's still much to be done to secure good jobs with good wages for America's working women.  That is why our motto for our 90th anniversary celebration is “90 years and still working.”

 

                              The Women's Bureau vision is to empower all working women to achieve economic security.  The Women's Bureau is taking the lead to ensure that women are aware of and prepared to succeed in the emerging green sector jobs.

 

                              Last year the Women's Bureau hosted 30 women and green jobs roundtables across the country from September to December 2009.  According to the roundtable participants, the lack of awareness and information about green jobs is a key challenge that women face.

 

                              In response to that, the Women's Bureau will issue a publication this fall which will be - which will give women the information they need to succeed in the green emerging economy.

 

                              The guide will provide women workers and workforce development professionals with information on

·        The benefits of green jobs for women;

·        The range of in-demand and emerging green jobs, including those in science, technology, engineering, and math (which we call STEM occupations);

·        Overcoming the challenges that we all know exist;

·        Educational and training opportunities;

·        Finding a green job;

·        Green entrepreneurship.  We actually have incubated some green entrepreneurs in Atlanta, 17 actually green entrepreneurs which we're very proud of.

·        Women succeeding in green jobs; and

·        Planning your green career -- this section has lots of tools and worksheets so that women can work through that.

 

                              The Women's Bureau has funded nine green job projects around the country.  These projects serve as models in preparing women for the high-growth and emerging green jobs over the next decade.

 

                              And I'd like to say that I want to thank all of you for your participation and being a collaborative partner with us in this process.  We actually hope that our guide will be launched either in October or early November.

 

                              So we're very excited about it.  And we just want to say thank you for being great partners.  And with that I just want to say welcome.  And I want to turn it back to Ms. Miller.  Ms. Miller.

 

Sarah Miller:           Thank you.  I would now like to introduce Colleen Graber who will facilitate the rest of our call today. Ms. Graber is a Project Manager at Public Policy Associates, Inc. where she is collaborating with the Women's Bureau to develop the Women's Guide to Green Jobs, as well as coordinating this teleconference series.

 

                              Ms. Graber has extensive experience in workforce economic development and education policy and has conducted evaluation and strategic planning work for a variety of clients at the federal, state and local levels.  Colleen.

 

Colleen Graber:      Give an overview of what we're going to be hearing from the speakers today.  Today's teleconference will include presentations by several individuals successfully working in and addressing workforce needs in environmental protection industry.

 

                              Dr. Hoang will be speaking about environmental health and justice considerations.  Ms. Martin will discuss environmental remediation opportunities.  And then we will hear about related jobs training program from EPA’s Joe Bruss and Oregon Tradeswomen’s Connie Ashbrook.

 

                              Following the presentations we will take questions for the speakers.  Let me begin by introducing Dr. Hoang.  She is WE ACT [for Environmental Justice’s] Director of Environmental Health, General Counsel.

 

                              She uses public health and legal research to develop legislative and policy strategies aimed at achieving a safe, healthy and sustainable environment for low-income communities of color, especially those in Northern Manhattan.

 

                              In addition, she collaborates with WE ACT’s organizing team to host workshops, trainings, [and] public meetings informing community members about the legal and political factors that influence land use and economic development in their area.

 

                              Prior to joining WE ACT, Ms., excuse me, Dr. Hoang worked with environmental justice organizations in California and was a post Doctoral Fellow at the University of California Berkley where she studied the biological impact of agricultural pesticide contamination on wild populations of amphibians, Dr. Hoang.

 

Dr. Anhthu Hoang:  Hello? Hello?

 

Colleen Graber:      Hello, we can hear you.

 

Dr. Anhthu Hoang:  Yes, can you hear me?

 

Colleen Graber:      Yes, go ahead.

 

Dr. Anhthu Hoang:  Okay good, sorry.  Yes, so I'm going to begin by telling you a little bit about WE ACT.  WE ACT was founded in 1988 around the West Harlem community struggles against a polluting facility.

 

                              And it was founded by a woman, Peggy Shephard, who continues to steward our ship today.  And presently we are working on a variety of campaigns to win a healthy environment and healthy home for communities of color, especially those in our immediate catchment area of Northern Manhattan.

 

                              So a lot of our work involves what folks are calling the green economy.  So I just wanted to start out by giving a bit of a critique on what is currently considered by government entities and mainstream environmental groups about the green sector.

 

                              First of all, most - if you look at most of the discussion, it's really difficult to identify what folks mean by green because the way that green jobs are defined is very narrow.  [Editor’s Note:  For the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) definition of green jobs, see http://www.bls.gov/green/green_definition.pdf.  More information on the BLS initiative to measure green jobs is available at: http://www.bls.gov/green/.]

 

                              It narrowly describes work that literally involves things that are colored green.  So, you know, you have workers in the areas of landscaping, parks maintenance to agriculture.  And more recently in the urban context of New York City, it's more about urban agriculture.

 

                              And secondly, green jobs are considered those that reuse materials, like recycling or composting, or reduce carbon emissions.  That is more along the lines of transit and transportation or energy efficiency.

 

                              But, you know, we think at WE ACT that the green economy should be defined more broadly.  It should be about greening existing industries and making sure that workers work in safe and healthy environments.

 

                              And the things that they make and the way that those things are made are protective of health for the environment and the people who live around facilities that make them.

 

                              So a lot of folks ask why are environmental justice advocates involved in talking about labor issues like green jobs?  Well, environmental justice communities have very high unemployment.  And we need services and modernization.

 

                              The sort of services and products that are produced by the "green economy."  Labor and environmental justice also intersect in our ultimate goals.  And that is creating healthy communities that are self-sustaining economically and generating skills and jobs that are - that advance our communities.

 

                              WE ACT has demonstrated a number of these collaborations could work in our partnerships with the transit workers union where we helped develop an environmental health and safety training scheme with the labor union.  That was ultimately used to curtail a lot of environmental practices that harmed our local environment such as bus idling and construction.

 

                              We've also done some work with the carpenter's union.  And we looked at ensuring safety and health training for the folks who are working in carpentry trades.  Because they - their work involves a lot of what's called volatile organic compounds which can trigger a variety of respiratory problems including asthma.  And also contributes to the development of cancer.

 

                              As far as what we can see as the needs for job training, a lot of workers, and especially women, we think that government should design incentives and policies that promote health and environmental sustainability.

 

                              And in doing so, they should develop these programs with the part - in partnership with the private sector because those are the folks that are generating the jobs and monitoring the workplaces and ensure considerations of health and safety.

 

                              And not just to put in infrastructure to ensure these things, but to train workers on good practices and what poor practices do to their own health and the health of the environments that they live in.

 

                              And then also to ensure continued advancement and education so that folks can transition into management positions, and not just to entry-level positions.  And importantly, consider health considerations that are beyond sort of the physical manifestations of health.

 

                              And what I mean by that is that workplaces need to consider mental health of their workers and especially with respect to women.  I think a lot of these programs need to consider all the externalities that go into a worker's life outside of the workplace.

 

                              So family issues, housing issues, disease and health issues that are outside of the workplace -- to give support mechanisms for women to sort of deal with these problems so that they can concentrate on their work and not endanger themselves when they're working in these environments.

 

                              So, you know, those are the things that we think are needed to ensure a just transition into the new economy.  And give folks a way out of the cycle of poverty that so many times they find themselves in.

 

                              That's the presentation for us.  Thank you.

 

Colleen Graber:      Thank you very much.  Next we'll move on to Ms. Martin.  Ms. Martin has significant experience in ecological assessments with emphasis on aquatic ecosystems.

 

                              Her work includes wetland delineations, wetland inland lake and stream permits, wetland mitigation, bio monitoring, habitat management plans, threatened and endangered species surveys, restoration planning, natural future inventories, and environmental assessments and impact statements.

 

                              She has been with ASTI Environmental for 13 years.  Ms. Martin.  Ms. Martin, are you on the line?

 

Dianne Martin:        Yes.  Can you hear me?

 

Colleen Graber:      Yes, we can.  Go ahead please.

 

Dianne Martin:        Thanks Colleen for having me today.  I'm going to be giving our listeners a little bit of a perspective on green jobs from the environmental consulting industry.

 

                              I'm going to start out by talking a little bit about our company.  And then my career and a little bit then about our feeling of what's going to be hot in the green jobs in the future.

 

                              ASTI Environmental is a full service environmental consulting firm.  And we were established in 1985.  And to date we have completed over 7,000 projects in the United States, largely in the Great Lakes Region since we're located in Michigan.

 

                              We've also had some larger longer-term clients that have taken us out of the country to perform projects in Canada, Mexico, and the Czech Republic.

 

                              And as I stated, we're a full service environmental consulting firm.  We're a little bit unique from other firms in our area in that we are solely an environmental consulting firm.  We are not engineers.  We are not architects.  We focus solely on environmental services.

 

                              We have several different groups here that focus on different types of environmental consulting.  I'm the Director of the Ecological Resource Group.  And most of my work focuses on the natural features of our area, mostly doing wetland and water quality assessments including wetland delineations, permitting, mitigation, stream assessments, river restoration, endangered species surveys, stormwater management, and NEPA compliance work, environmental assessments, and environmental impact statements. [Editor’s Note: The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions.]

 

                              We also have a property services group that focuses more on the due diligence aspect of consulting, largely Phase 1 environmental site assessments, Phase 2 environmental site assessment investigation, as well as contamination remediation.

 

                              And some of the more indoor work like light assessments, asbestos abatement and mold investigations.  And then we also have a brownfield redevelopment service group that focuses on brownfield grant administration, preparation of brownfield plans, and tax credit applications.

 

                              A whole host of redevelopment planning both from a site remediation aspect, as well as from a financial perspective.  We service a whole host of markets.  And I think that's been one of the reasons why our company has been able to withstand this down economy so well.  We do a lot of different work for different clients.

 

                              Our largest segment for clients would be developers, real estate agents and brokers.  We do a lot of wetland and Phase 1 investigations for people looking to develop.

 

                              And then we also have increased our municipal work in the past ten years since I've been here.  And as well as doing work for manufacturers and transportation agencies, and a fair amount of work for all the other different market segments.

 

                              I wanted to give you a little bit of an idea of some specific projects that we do for our various types of clients.  For our municipal clients we administer environmental ordinances, whether it's a wetland ordinance or a natural features protection ordinance.

 

                              We do site remediation for our municipal clients that have properties within their boundaries that need to be cleaned up.  Ecological restoration is a hot topic right now since there are so many grant dollars being poured into the Great Lakes area for this type of work.

 

                              And then we also do a fair amount of brownfield redevelopment for municipal clients, whether it's administering their brownfield program or helping them redevelop contaminated properties.

 

                              For developers we help them with brownfield work as well as looking at lead and asbestos in homes and buildings that need to be torn down and redeveloped.

 

                              We look at their due diligence issues before they buy properties, making sure that sites are either clean or that the proper protection is in place if they have been contaminated.

 

                              And then we also do the whole host of wetland aspects, whether it's delineation or getting our clients their permits or their mitigation.

 

                              For the manufacturing community we do treatment wetlands are an increasing part of our workload where we try to treat stormwater innovatively or we actually can take contaminated ground water, send it through a treatment wetland and clean it that way.

 

                              And then we still have our standard contamination remediation projects, as well as industrial compliance.

 

                              Transportation agencies use us for wetland services for new roads, doing wetland delineations and all of their permitting and mitigation.  As well as the NEPA compliance work which is completing an environmental assessment or an EIS [environmental impact statement] prior to project onset.

 

                              And then we also have done a fair amount of endangered species work for transportation projects.

 

                              I got started in my environmental career in the '90s.  I went to Western Michigan University for a Bachelors Degree in Biology and Environmental Studies.

 

                              And when I graduated, the economy was down at that point as well.  And I had a hard time breaking into the field.  And decided that I needed to broaden my knowledge a little bit and went on then to get a Masters Degree from Eastern Michigan University.

 

                              And once I graduated with my Masters Degree I did find that the economy was a little bit better. And with that additional Masters Degree I was more readily capable of finding a good job.

 

                              I started out working for the Missouri Department of Conservation doing wetland research along the Missouri River post the big floods of 1993 and 1995.

 

                              And after getting that experience I moved back to Michigan and found that I pretty much could have gone into any type of environmental career that I was interested in.

 

                              I was offered positions in consulting and research, as well as in government.  And I decided to go into consulting because I thought it looked like it was the most interesting.  And I think I made the right decision.  I've been here 13 years later.  And I'm now the Director of the Resource Assessment and Management Group.

 

                              After talking to some of the women at ASTI and some of my colleagues in the field, I fully can say that I think that they career opportunities in green jobs, especially for women is very bright even in this down economy.

 

                              Looking at what type of projects we're still getting and things that I see on the horizon, I see a lot of opportunity for continued ecological restoration.  As I spoke earlier, there's a lot of funding now, especially in the Great Lakes area as part of the Great Lakes restoration initiative, where $475 million per year has been guaranteed for the next five years for restoration efforts in the Great Lakes area.

 

As part of that funding and other funding sources as well, a lot of ecological restoration projects are occurring.  And we see that continuing on in the future.

 

                              Renewable energy is also a growing field.  We see a lot of work for wind farm development, whether that's doing the ecological work prior to wind farm siting, or the actual construction themselves.

 

                              We see a large increase in interest from our clients in green buildings and getting their new developments or buildings LEED certified.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

 

                              And those buildings or developments look at innovative stormwater treatment as well as energy efficiency.  We also have seen an increase in innovative stormwater treatment needs from our clients as part of their green development.

 

                              And that includes items like designing and building rain gardens, bioswales, treatment wetlands, porous pavement and other types of innovative stormwater treatments.  [Editor’s Note: Bioswales are landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water.]

 

                              And in addition we also see an increase in brownfield redevelopment work from both the municipal and development sides of things.  This includes both site assessment, grant work, and the remediation work that goes along with it.

 

                              And finally, and perhaps the most interesting for me recently, we've seen an increase in urban gardening.  And municipalities looking to redevelop some of their vacant lots into urban gardens.  And that has produced some work for us in site remediation as well as Phase 1s and site planning.

 

                              In closing I'd like to say that I would highly encourage anyone, including women of course, to consider the environmental field for a career, even in this economy.

 

                              Not only are there the traditional types of environmental employment opportunities, but a whole suite of new environmental fields to explore.

 

Colleen Graber:      Thank you very much, Ms. Martin.

 

Dianne Martin:        Thank you.

 

Colleen Garber:      Next we will move on to Mr. Bruss and Ms. Ashbrook.  Joe Bruss serves as the environmental justice and job training grant program coordinator at the U.S. EPA's [Environmental Protection Agency] Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization where he's worked for the past six years.

 

                              In 2009 Joe was awarded a U.S. Fulbright Grant to conduct research on the integration of equitable development principles in Dutch redevelopment projects in the Netherlands.

 

                              And before coming to EPA, he worked in land acquisition and program coordination.

 

                              Connie Ashbrook is the Executive Director of Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. (OTI), a non-profit organization dedicated promoting success for women in the trades through education, leadership and mentoring.

 

                              Previous to her 14 years with OTI, she worked in the trades for 17 years as a dump truck driver, carpenter apprentice, and an elevator constructor.  She was the first woman in Oregon to become licensed as an elevator mechanic.

 

                              Connie served on the Oregon State Apprenticeship and Training Council for nine years and is on the Oregon Council on Civil Rights.  So I will turn it over to you two now.  Thank you.

 

Joe Bruss:               Hi, this is Joe.  Can you hear me?

 

Colleen Graber:      Yes, we can.

 

Joe Bruss:               Perfect.

 

Connie Ashbrook:  Hi, this is Connie.  Can you hear me?

 

Colleen Graber:      Yes, Connie, you're on.

 

Connie Ashbrook:  Thank you.

 

Joe Bruss:               Okay, again my name is Joe Bruss.  I'm with Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Program.  I'll just kick it off before turning it over to Connie.

 

                              At first just wanted to provide a little bit of overview of what the Brownfields Program and specifically the Brownfields Job Training Grant Program is about before we hear from Connie who's actually implemented it at the ground level.

 

                              For those who don't know brownfields.  These are sites where there's perceived contamination.  Oftentimes there is not actual contamination, but they lay idle.

 

                              Vacant, abandoned buildings, we're thinking the rust belt.  But it could also include old industrial factories, abandoned gas stations, mine-scarred land and also meth labs.

 

                              It's a problem national in scope.  It's not just an urban problem, but it's also a rural problem.  The Brownfields Job Training Program in a nutshell, it's an annual grant program.

 

                              And the point of the program is to provide grant funds to local governmental and non-governmental entities and organizations to recruit, train and place unemployed and underemployed, predominantly low-income and minority residents of communities impacted by brownfields, with the skills needed to secure full-time employment in remediation work and the environmental field at large.

 

                              A lot of people ask well, why is the EPA doing job training?  Well, we've been doing it for well over a decade now.  And it's one of only two really training programs at the EPA focused on environmental training.

 

                              But we also have a close collaboration with the Department of Labor, the Employment and Training Administration and also the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

 

                              The worker education and training program that they administer which is really focused on health and safety, hazardous wastes.

 

                              So the first seeds of the Brownfields Job Training Grant Program and the Brownfields program itself really emerged in the early '90s.  And it reflected EPA's growing concern for environmental equity, which was later known as environmental justice, looking at the disproportionate impact of polluting facilities, primarily in low-income and minority communities. 

 

                              Among the lessons learned from the very first EPA brownfields pilot grants was the realization that the communities surrounding brownfield sites were not benefitting from the job opportunities created by the assessment and cleanup activities taking place.

 

                              EPA realized that these brownfields related jobs were being filled by environmental professionals from other cities, due to a lack of environmental training among local workforces.

 

                              It goes without saying that brownfields are usually located in low-income, minority communities, those that have suffered economically.

 

                              In the early years, while EPA really didn't have the resources allocated for job training the brownfields program.  The agency had already collaborated with the Hazardous Materials Training Research Institute out of Iowa to offer environmental education and training program assistance to community colleges located near Superfund and other hazardous waste sites.

 

                              With the goal of adding a job training component to the brownfields program, EPA tapped the expertise of a number of federal entities with established job training programs, including the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

 

                              In 2002, President Bush signed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act into law, known as the Brownfields Law.  This legislation amended CERCLA [Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act] to specifically authorize federal financial assistance for brownfields revitalization including grants for assessment, clean-up, and also job training.  [Editor’s Note: The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, was enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980. This law created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad Federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment.]

 

                              CERCLA now had language specifically authorizing job training grants under EPA's Brownfields Program authorizing EPA to provide grants for training to facilitate the site assessment, remediation, and clean-up of brownfield sites.

 

                              To date, EPA has funded 169 job-training grants through the Brownfields Job Training Program, totaling over $35 million.  More than 5,800 participants have completed training.  And more than 3,800 individuals have obtained employment in the environmental field with an average starting hourly wage of $14.65.

 

                              So where are we at now?  In 2010, the Brownfields Program has really led an effort to more closely collaborate on workforce development and job training with other programs within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

 

                              So these other programs include the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, who deal with solid waste issues; the Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology, we're talking the really contaminated sites; the Office of Underground Storage Tanks; the Federal Facilities Program; the Center for Program Analysis, who is looking at alternative energies; and the Office of Emergency Management.

 

                              For many, many years through the Brownfields Job Training Grant Program we have provided applicants the opportunity to design their own curriculums based on the hiring needs in their communities.

 

                              We know that not all communities have the same hiring and therefore training needs.  But typical curriculums for years have really tended to include, you know, training such as asbestos abatement, HAZWOPER [Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response], lead abatement, mold remediation, confined space entry, the list goes on.

 

                              These jobs have really kind of resulted in graduates obtaining work being environmental technicians, entry-level environmental technicians.  And they supplemented this core environmental training with training such as construction skills.

 

                              But in 2010, we, for many years now, we've kind of had to operate within the statutory limits of the Brownfields Law.  But we've seen a lot of proposals coming in with more innovative types of environmental training.

 

                              And as, you know, this dialogue has really taken off on green jobs.  For so long it never really existed, you know.  With the new administration, suddenly “green jobs” was this buzz term that everyone was talking about.

 

                              But for so long, a lot of employment and training institutions throughout the country never really considered the environmental field to be a field worth recognizing, in my opinion.

 

                              But suddenly it's this really hot term, green jobs.  So for 2010, the Brownfields Program, again we're the only program really in the agency that had this environmental training program.

 

                              We really want to grow it.  So we're leading these partnerships with other offices such as the Office of Water, the Office of Air, and other land contamination program such as the Superfund Program, the Office of Underground Storage Tanks, which I just mentioned to deliver training outside the scope of just brownfields.

 

                              So as a result of all these discussions, we're dropping the term the Brownfields Job Training Program, and we're renaming it the Environmental Training Grant Program.

 

                              And we hope to take this agency wide in 2012.  The 2011 request for applications is going to be issued in the next few weeks, we're hoping October 15.  Again, it's an annual grant competition.  We usually award approximately 12 to 15 grants.

 

                              This year they'll be up to $300,000 each for two-year project periods.  Again, cities, states, tribes, workforce investment boards, community colleges, non-profit organizations, environmental justice organizations are eligible to apply.

 

                              They design their own training programs.  And they lead recruitment and placement activities as well, usually through partnerships with local workforce investment boards, et cetera.

 

                              The call today really focused on women.  We have really never distinguished that, you know, training is for a specific group of individuals.  We know that men typically have been interested in the trades and construction.

 

                              I know Connie will probably get into this later.  But, you know, the point of this program has really been to provide a benefit to communities with brownfields so they can benefit from the job opportunities that are created.

 

                              And once the brownfields activities have been completed, these individuals that have completed the training programs have an opportunity to go on to other environmental careers.

 

                              So I'll leave it there and now pass it over to Connie.  Thanks.

 

Connie Ashbrook:  Thank you Joe.  Well, this is Connie [Ashbrook] from Oregon Tradeswomen, and I want to start by thanking the EPA for their support for our programs.  And also the Women's Bureau in our Region 10.  Betty Lock and her team have been so incredibly helpful to us as we're developing our green jobs program, just as we developed our pre-apprenticeship program. 

 

                              And Oregon Tradeswomen has been around since 1989.  We're a non-profit dedicated to promoting success of women in the trades through education, leadership and mentorship.

 

                              And our goal is to help women and women of color be successful in the construction, mechanical, and utility trades with a specialty in environmental remediation.

 

                              And we work very closely in the Portland area with environmental justice organizations.  We're sending some of our green team youth to the Groundwork USA gathering later this month.

 

                              And so it's really interesting to see all the efforts on green and environmental and how they're all coming together.

 

                              We have three programs – serving girls, serving adult women, and doing leadership development and mentorship for women workers in the field – and one big event, our Women in Trades Career Fair, and you can find our Web site by Googling Oregon Tradeswomen.  So I won't go into that. 

 

                              But I want to concentrate in this few minutes on our pre-apprenticeship program that also prepares women for the environmental field.  It is seven weeks long, three days a week.  It is free to the participants.  And most all of our participants are low-income women.  We have female instructors from industry who are also role models.

 

                              And we try to have no more than five students to one instructor ratio so that the students get lots of individual attention.  The students get a weekly evaluation and feedback on their performance to industry standards, which really helps them be ready for the sometimes foreign environments in the building construction trades or the environmental fields.

 

                              We also do our hands-on training out in the community on different non-profits.  So those job sites give students a chance to give back to the community.  At the same time they're gaining their skills by modeling those job sites like a real construction site.

 

                              So they get to work with power tools, hand tools, be evaluated as to their performance and attitudes.  And that really, as I said, that really helps them be ready for the work environment when they go into it.

 

                              Up until now we've graduated about 100 women annually.  But because this year we not only have Women's Bureau money, Environmental Protection Agency money, but also ARRA funds from the General Services Administration, we'll graduate about 150 women from our pre-apprenticeship program.

 

                              They learn the hands-on skills, but they also get certified in 40-hour HAZWOPER OSHA ten-hour construction safety.  And then we have an eight-hour green building module thanks to a small technical assistance grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.  And that is available if folks would like to have that training.

 

                              So we not only have a once a week hands-on day practice, but we do take, once a week we have field trips to different construction sites and apprenticeship training centers.  So that women get really familiar with industry conditions and the institutions of the industry.

 

                              I won't go into the requirements to enter the program unless people have questions afterwards.  But I want to have - show a few statistics.  About 67% of the students that start the class graduate.

 

                              And up until the downturn in economy we had about 67% of the graduates go to work in the field.  And now it's about 44%.  And we're hoping to increase that through some of our new staff, but also the EPA has new efforts to help job training programs connect with industry.  And Joe, thank you, that's - those have been really great ideas.

 

                              Our graduates, our entry-level wage is $13.50 to start.  But typically after three to five years they're making in the $20 to $30 an hour range.  Some of the jobs are really pure environmental jobs like asbestos abatement or working with hazardous chemicals.

 

                              But many, many more where the training and knowledge is an important component of their job as electricians, plumbers, sheet metal workers, laborers.  So that they can protect the environments, fellow workers and themselves and the public from hazards that might emerge as the work is being done in building renovation, redevelopment and jobs like that.

 

                              So we do have really strong after class support because sometimes in this industry it takes a while to get established as a worker.  So even after that first placement, we continue to [offer] re-employment assistance.

 

                              We have a monthly social hour for networking, mentoring, job leads and social support.  We have an active Facebook presence and a volunteer program.  And we have some funding for tools, boots, childcare and additional classes, specialized classes.

 

                              So I think I will stop there and see what questions people might have.

 

Colleen Graber:      Okay.  Thank you very much to our speakers today for contributing to this overview of concerns, considerations, and opportunities in the environmental protection field.

 

                              And special thanks to Connie for sharing her example of her training program.  Daniela, we are ready to take questions now from the audience.

 

Coordinator:           Thank you.  At this time we're ready to being the question and answer session.  To ask a question, please press star 1.  You may withdraw your question by pressing star 2.

 

                              Once again if you would like to ask a question please press star 1, one moment please.  Once again press star 1 to ask a question. There's a question from Patricia O'Connor.  Your line is open.

 

Patricia O'Connor:  Good afternoon.  Thank you very much for this discussion.  I'm presently taking some classes.  And I'm interested to know if I could get some advice whether a women who has not been in the construction industry is wise to take the LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] Green Associates accreditation or the BPI [Building Performance Institute]?

 

Colleen Graber:      Dianne, can you address that?

 

Dianne Martin:        Yes, I'd be happy to.  I think it would be fine.  In our experience, the LEED programs will give you a fair amount of information in order to take the test and get your certification.

 

                              And I have had associates take it that are more in the environmental field then in the construction industry.  And they have done fine.  I think as long as you have some basic knowledge of construction and environmental principles, you would do just fine in the class and taking the test to get certified.

 

Colleen Graber:      Okay, thank you very much.  Next question.

 

Coordinator:           Our next question comes from Luzdary Giraldo.

 

Luzdary Giraldo:     It's Luzdary Giraldo.  Thank you.  Do you have programs for immigrant women who do not speak English well?  Do you provide training in other languages?  And if so, what languages?

 

                              And if not, do you partner with other organizations who provide safety and health training to assist with the languages barrier?

 

Colleen Graber:      All right, thank you.  Anhuthu, would you maybe have experience with that through WE ACT?

 

Dr. Anhthu Hoang:  Yes, we have.  I know that some electrical unions have courses for their workers who are bilingual.  It depends on the local of the union.  And you should contact them to find out exactly what is available.

 

                              But we’ve certainly heard of training for bilingual folks.  In our environmental safety and health training with the carpenter's union, we did it bilingually.

 

Colleen Graber:      Okay, great.  And our next question.

 

Coordinator:           Once again to ask a question press star 1.  Our next question comes from Kenneth Collins.

 

Kenneth Collins:     Hello, this is Kenneth Collins.  Can you hear me?

 

Colleen Graber:      Yes.

 

Kenneth Collins:     Yes, I'm in California, the high desert area where there is a lot of utility-scale solar projects projected.

 

                              And I know that you've mentioned wind.  These are projects, some are targeted for union laborers, some are not.  And I wanted to know have you looked into women being specifically targeted?  Because a lot of that pre-construction development does involve siting.

 

                              And I wanted to know are there opportunities being looked at for women in the utility-scale solar construction field?  And if so, what agency has targeted it?

 

Colleen Graber:      Okay, thank you.  That could cover quite a few people, but Connie, maybe you want to start being sort of in that area of the country.

 

Connie Ashbrook:  Well, I'm not familiar at all with what's happening in the California area except to know that there is a fabulous program called WINTER, Women in Non Traditional Employment Fields, W-I-N-T-E-R in the Los Angeles area.

 

                              So I was - I know that they just did an all female pre-line worker, pre-apprenticeship program to help women get into the line worker industry.  So I would try and look them up because I think they would probably have great industry connections.  And they have that great training that could help women get prepared.

 

Colleen Graber:      Does anyone else want to comment on that one in opportunities in [solar] in particular?  Okay, another suggestion that may be of help.

 

                              In previous teleconference on alternative energies, we heard from people in wind, solar and biomass industries.  And so there may be some information in connection with that.

 

                              And that information is available on the Women's Bureau Web site under the teleconference information.  All right can we have our next question please?

 

Coordinator:           Our next question comes from Jacquelyn Smith-Crooks.

 

Jacquelyn Smith-Crooks:          Hi, I'm in Amherst, Massachusetts, and I'm an educator and minister.  I'm very interested in coming up with some connections between the faith community, existing and/or anticipated projects and programs between faith communities and the work that you're doing.

 

                              And I will add another little piece.  I wanted to hear more about the Guide to Green Jobs.  And seeing how it's possible to make an interface there as well.

 

Colleen Graber:      Okay.  Well, I'll address the guide question since I'm overseeing its production.  The guide will have information of a whole variety as Director Manzano-Díaz pointed out at the beginning of the call.

 

                              It's aimed at women as the audience.  And will offer resources, online and otherwise, for them to find education and training.  To try and find employment in a green field.

 

                              To consider what green career they may want to do and how best to go about that.  So there's a whole variety of pieces to that.  And so for others like yourselves looking at how to make connections to facilitate some of those employment opportunities, you know, you'll be reading it from a different perspective.

 

                              But it may give you some information about how to connect with other community based organizations, how to work with your local One Stop office, those kinds of things to promote job opportunities and to connect with women to these jobs.

 

                              In terms of other connections with the faith-based community, did one of the other speakers want to address that?

 

Joe Bruss:               I'm happy to give a little example.  I know of a Reverend down in South Carolina, Aiken, South Carolina.  Her name is Reverend Brendolyn Jenkins.

 

                              And she really championed a training program for local minority, low-income individuals, including those who were incarcerated.  And trying to find those individuals work, put them through the training program.

 

                              And, you know, she was part of a faith-based organization.  She didn't really have, you know, the knowledge about the technical skills needed.  But she knew that there were jobs associated with a site on the border in Georgia and South Carolina.

 

                              She really again championed that project.  And I think she's going to be leading another project that we just funded through the EPA in Aiken, South Carolina.  If you want to contact me, I'm happy to get you in touch with her.

 

Colleen Graber:      Great, thank you for that example.  Do we have another question?

 

Coordinator:           Once again to ask a question press star 1.  Our next question comes from Miranda Jones.

 

Miranda Jones:       Hi, I think this would probably be for Dianne Martin because it has to do with environmental consulting.  I'm an Environmental Health Scientist in New York.

 

                              And I used to work in the government, but I'm kind of looking to segue into environmental consulting.  And I'm just having a little trouble kind of navigating the career search in New York City.

 

                              There's more on the environmental engineering end than environmental science.  I was just wondering if you knew of any sort of Web sites or other types of resources that would help me find even those environmental consulting firms out there in New York?

 

Dianne Martin:        I'm not sure about the New York area specifically, being from Michigan.  But I, you know, I would imagine my advice would be the same if you were in Michigan as well.

 

                              And that would be to find the professional association that matches most closely to what you want to go into.  For example if you are really looking into going into maybe wetland science, you would find the Professional Society of Wetland Scientists and get onto their Web site.

 

                              And they will have a job board countrywide.  And that's pretty much how I would find employees for wetland work.  And I imagine that there's something similar for most of the types of environmental consulting positions out there.

 

                              I think it's best too, if I were looking for a job these days I would just get involved in the community and start networking with folks, volunteer, any opportunities you can get to do any type of volunteer work for municipalities or non-profits to get your name out there.

 

                              Start meeting people working in your field.  And, you know, really word of mouth is how a lot of these jobs go these days.  I think a lot of people in the consulting field are afraid to put out too many job postings because they're getting so inundated these days in the down economy.

 

                              And so they try to keep these things on the down low a little bit.  So just get out there and network.

 

Colleen Graber:      Great.  Thank you, Dianne.  All right I think we have time for another question.

 

Coordinator:           There are no further questions.

 

Colleen Graber:      There are none? I 'm sorry, Daniela, what did you say?

 

Coordinator:           There are no further questions.

 

Colleen Graber:      Okay great.  All right well we are right on time to end then.  So I'd like to thank all of those who participated on the call today. And a special thanks to the Women's Bureau.

 

                              The Women's Bureau will host the PowerPoint and fact sheet that accompanied this teleconference on their Web site, as well as a transcript of the conversation and an audio recording.

 

                              And that should be up on their site within two weeks or so.  If you have any questions, you can feel free to contact myself or one of the speakers.  And we will try and get you the answer to that.

 

                              Thank you very much and hope you will join us for our final teleconference, which will be taking place next month.  Thank you all.