KCCD Board Approves "Valley Strong Energy Institute"
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
This afternoon, the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees voted to approve the naming of BC's community education efforts linked to the college's Energy Technology, Transfer and Workforce Development initiative. The new name comes after a $2 Million gift by Valley Strong Credit Union to The Bakersfield College Foundation meant to support the college's work focused on energy technologies and job training for the vibrant and growing workforce in Kern County.
“We are proud to offer this bold commitment to improve lives around Kern County,” said Nick Ambrosini, president/CEO of Valley Strong Credit Union. “As our partner, Bakersfield College is uniquely positioned to make the Energy Institute a key driver for energy perseverance, which ensures a prosperous future not just for our workforce, but for the entire community.”
Bakersfield College's community-wide education efforts kicked off last year in a series of webinars with industry leaders and partners, including the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and the County of Kern. The webinars are free, open to the public, and widely promoted to students as a virtual forum where they can hear directly from subject matter experts on the cusp of new technologies like agrovoltaics.
“The energy technology transfer and workforce development initiative at Bakersfield College has been many years in the making,” said Kern Community College District Chancellor Sonya Christian. “This is critical work for our region as KCCD is becoming more of a catalyst for the jobs we want to have available for our children and grandchildren. I am super thrilled for this significant financial investment by Valley Strong Credit Union in applied Research and Development work in energy and our partnership with NREL.”
Kern County is home to an abundance of energy resources, exceeding those of almost every state in the nation and therefore it makes sense that Bakersfield College would create an initiative focused around energy and the future workforce. Kern County is uniquely positioned geographically to be a world leader in renewable energy, including technologies such as wind, solar, biomass, and more. Major solar projects are underway in eastern Kern County, and there are already more than 4,500 wind turbines around Tehachapi, the “Wind Capital of the U.S.” Research on renewable energy will only continue to grow, with research on biomass energy using agricultural waste in the Delano area.
Cheryl Scott, the Executive Director of BC's Foundation, is excited about the partnership and the opportunities it creates. She says, "I'm thrilled to see students exploring education and careers that are directly tied to our local economy. The result will be well-prepared Renegades who are ready for the latest and most cutting-edge jobs that offer family sustaining wages and bright futures! Bold collaborations like this, with Valley Strong Credit Union, have the power to transform lives."
As the first private donor to support BC's energy related work, Valley Strong is providing funding and support for this important work. Valley Strong Credit Union's gift will support the expansion of BC's community education efforts, such as the related webinar series, development of an NREL virtual campus at BC, and efforts focused on energy workforce development for students at Bakersfield College.
Kern Community College District Trustee, Kay Meek is glad to see the result of this partnership becoming a reality. She said, “Valley Strong Credit Union has been tremendous supporters of education and BC students for many, many years and they are an important pillar in our community. Valley Strong strives to help families and individuals make wise decisions and invest in their future.”