The People Behind the Green Economy: Part 2

Nothing gives a better sense of the growth of the green economy than the stories of the workers themselves. Part II of our series profiles people who work in conservation, renewable energy and green business. Their stories reflect the scope of the green jobs sector (catch part one here):

Stacey torigoe 2Name: Stacey Torigoe

City: Mineral, CA

Occupation: National Park Service Biological Science Technician (Vegetation)


In simple terms, describe what you do in your job.

I work with plants--big ones, little ones, good ones, bad ones--in National Parks. Over four seasons with the Park Service, I have pulled dandelions in Alaska, collected seeds in Hawai’i, helped propagate some very rare geraniums and violets on Maui, and will be headed to California this summer to work with burned areas and lichen surveys. A lot of my job is invasive plant control--cutting, spraying, and pulling. Some of it is rare plant work--nurturing seeds and seedlings in greenhouses, transplanting, outplanting. All of it is immensely rewarding--helping an endangered species get back on its feet, removing an invasive species from a beautiful place that it could potentially destroy.

Why did you decide to pursue this career?

Hawai’i, where I grew up, is a really tough place to be a native plant or animal right now--invasive species, climate change, fires, floods, hurricanes and more--and I wanted to help heal the ‘aina that had given me so much over the years. So I volunteered for a summer with the Restoration Ecology Program at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park--collecting seeds, taking care of keiki plants, monitoring burned areas. I learned a lot about my island, met some really cool people, loved it and felt like I was making a difference in the world, and never looked back.

What kind of training/experience do you need for this career?

A degree in biology or environmental science is helpful. But on-the-job training is even more valuable, especially in the Park Service.

Good writing and communication skills are essential, and being able to work well with other people on a crew. Skills like GPS navigation and mapping, GIS, plant ID, bird ID, weeding, using equipment like chainsaws and chippers, camping, hiking, and organization are all great things to have. Even the yard work you did growing up is a valuable experience.

Getting an internship or volunteering with a conservation organization for a season is a great way to build job skills, your resume, and references. The Student Conservation Association (SCA), and the National Park Service offer lots of great internship opportunities in national parks and refuges throughout the year.

What are the best resources for someone interested in this career?

Nature itself is your best resource for getting into natural resources management--go outside and get to know seasonal patterns, migrations, and the plants and animals around you. At your library, field guides with pictures and scientific names can help you start getting to know plants and animals by name.

Try your local Department of Natural Resources, National or State Park, university, or agriculture extension agent. Talking to people who work outside in the field on a regular basis, and maybe asking if you can help as a volunteer or shadow them for a day or a week, is the best way to start. Ask lots of questions, and be alert to your environment.

What does having a green job mean to you?

Having a green job means making a net difference of good in the world. It means giving more than you have received. It means making space for other creatures and giving back to an earth that has given you food, water, and the “ultimate standard of beauty and truth,” as said by Bernd Heinrich. It means preserving that legacy of beauty and truth, of biodiversity and productivity and harmony, for future generations of creatures.



Name: Alix Davidson

City: Washington DC

Occupation: Director of Standards and Certification at Green America


In simple terms, describe what you do in your job.

Green America, a national nonprofit founded in 1982, certifies business committed to using business as a platform for social change. I run the process of certifying qualified businesses and awarding them the Green America Seal in bronze, silver or gold.


Why did you decide to pursue this career?

I graduated from Evergreen State College having studied social movements and having been a volunteer with the local chapter of the Audubon Society. In 2004, I answered an ad on to work on the first ever Washington DC Green Festival and I’ve been at Green America ever since.


What kind of training/experience do you need for this career?

The work is really collaborative, so experience working on a team is great. I always trust that people are reading the industry media, like CSRWire and Triple Pundit, and I encourage them to attend conferences like Net Impact and BALLE and local green business/ entrepreneurship social gatherings. Green America’s context is using the power of investors, consumers and businesses to make fundamental change, so understanding how the economy and politics work on various levels is also helpful. Finally, even in the age of texting and emails, good writing skills are essential.


What are the best resources for someone interested in this career?

·         Informational interviews with organizations or people you admire

·         Internships, even for half a day a week, since they get you in the workplace and you can see what people are doing all around you. Also, volunteering gives you better informal access and people are always more forthcoming with people they’re familiar with.

· is where I’ve gotten most of my jobs and where people find ours

·         Industry media and gatherings

·         The library: suck up those green business books! They’ll help you understand the depth and breadth of an economy and a social movement dedicated to making a world that truly works for all.


What does having a green job mean to you?

It means being proud of my work and my place in the world. I get to learn new things every day and I’m committed to learning and growing however I can. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given to be part of the movement.


: Joe Briney

City: Bedford, MA

Occupation: Photovoltaic (PV) Systems Engineer and Project Manager


In simple terms, describe what you do in your job.

Long story short: I design photovoltaic (solar) power systems and oversee the construction process. I’ll assess a client’s energy consumption and available space and create a PV system that either meets their energy needs or maximizes the available area. From there I will specify parts needed for the construction of the project, create budgets and schedules, file paperwork with the utilities and local building departments, monitor the construction process, and ultimately test the system to ensure it meets performance standards.

Why did you decide to pursue this career?

I’ve always been interested in energy efficiency and renewable energy. I want to be part of the solution to a global problem.

What kind of training/experience do you need for this career?

For my specific job, you need a technical degree (engineering, science, architecture) as well as certification from NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners). I have a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and one of two certifications from NABCEP. I am currently working toward that second certification which requires a certain amount of training and experience as project manager.

For just the project manager role that I play, any college degree combined with NABCEP training and construction experience would suffice.

What are the best resources for someone interested in this career?

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners

What does having a green job mean to you?

It means that I am working on something that is very important. I firmly believe that the world needs to transition to renewables as soon as possible, and I am doing everything that I can to help.



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Its excellent work for climate change issues. Organization for Sustainable Development is also working on Environment. please share us information about the common agenda.

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.