For the past three years, high school Pathway students have been serving as interns through the Climate Action Pathways for Schools, CAPS, in an effort to make the Porterville area greener and cleaner.

The goals CAPS and the student interns have include saving Porterville Unified School District $300,000 every year on energy bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote the green economy. Student interns are achieving these goals by working with school officials to make all buildings in PUSD zero-net energy, which means the onsite renewable energy provides 100 percent of buildings needs or to have PUSD create more energy than it uses.

This initiative started back in 2019 with 3 pathway interns from the Academy of Engineering at Harmony Magnet Academy and has grown to 12 pathway interns across 4 Pathways in the district. Since the program began, PUSD has saved about $830,000.

“What I thought was going to be a small focus on only a few campuses back in 2019 when this started at Harmony has grown into a district-wide initiative for a better Porterville community. These students are helping drive meaningful changes and it is very exciting to see,” said Pathways Learning Director Erik Santos

Throughout the years, CAPS interns have worked across PUSD on energy audits at various school sites and office buildings, tracking and analyzing solar performance and analyzing energy usage district wide.

Interns have also conducted walk-audits of street infrastructure for students who walk/bike to school, ensuring safety for students.

PUSD recently replaced 6 old diesel buses with 6 all-electric buses. The fuel savings are currently being tracked by CAPS interns.

“Working with the Pathway Interns has been a fun experience because they can see a real impact on this community,” said CAPS program manager Jenn Garvin. “The caliber of work and professionalism they bring to their work is top-notch.”

Two state grants fund much of the program: the Clean Mobility Options and the Transformative Climate Communities grants. CAPS is currently working with PUSD on a $35 million grant that would promote multiple sustainability projects across the district relating to buildings, transportation, waste, and water.

CAPS interns also work with local leaders in the green industry, such as ZeroNox, and work with the City of Porterville and the Tulare County Association of Governments.

Any incoming freshmen interested in joining one of the 14 PUSD Pathways for the 2022-2023 school year can apply online at pathways.portervilleschools.org. The deadline to sign up for a Pathway is Saturday, January 15.

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