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Illinois Country Living

Carol Timms

Carol Timms, President of Educational Dividends and Director of EnergyNet


Bringing Energy Solutions Back to School

Students take on the challenge of wrestling with waste

Energy rates are on the increase; school budgets are not. What’s a school administrator to do? The solution can be found in the classroom, in the hallways and on the playground. Our children have wrestled energy wasting behaviors to the ground while learning and applying math, science, language arts, technology and life skills.

Over the past 14 years, Educational Dividends has been providing schools with age-appropriate, solutions-based learning, focused on energy, technology and life skills. EnergyNet is a powerful example. Since 1994, hundreds of Illinois schools have enjoyed average energy savings of 15 percent, increased student motivation and learning, and built relationships within their sponsors and communities.

Your electric cooperatives have been an integral part of our team. Working with the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative (EIEC) and others is a perfect fit for EnergyNet. The electric cooperatives understand their members’ needs and we’ve found they are focused on long and short-term solutions.

For example, EIEC asked us to develop the Home Energy Management teaching unit to help students take their energy skills into the residential community. “We’re preparing them to make informed energy decisions whether they are managing their own home’s energy use, or they choose a career in the building trades,” says Bob Dickey, EIEC Marketing Manager. “At the same time, we’re letting our young people and their families know the cooperative is a reliable source of energy information.”

Oh Yes, They Can!

The major complaint we hear about school is “it’s boring!” We underestimate our children. They crave learning experiences that are important and challenging.

Consider the experience of Kristi and Jeena, freshmen at GCMS High School in Gibson City. When they were first told they’d be part of a team who would audit the energy use of the school, they thought it sounded like a lot of work. “Honestly, I thought Ms. Wade really didn’t like us,” says Jeena.

“I was sure I wouldn’t understand it, so I just pretended,” says Kristi, a competitive young lady who didn’t want to admit that the “big words” she was hearing were foreign to her. In short order, their opinions began to change.

“It felt more like they really wanted us to experience things and not just sit there and talk about it. We learned how things actually worked and they respected us,” Kristi adds.

Over the course of four years, Kristi, Jeena and their team, sponsored by EIEC, applied for and received a $31,728 lighting retrofit grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and were critical to negotiations for a $1.3 million dollar performance contract to install energy improvements in all three buildings within the school district. Those improvements included new windows in the high school, a new gym roof and the transformation of a chemistry lab into a vocational building.

Elementary students have enjoyed tremendous success with the program as well. Whether serving as Energy Detectives or Auditors, students at all levels appreciate the opportunity to apply their learning to a real world issue.

Proven Solutions

Educational Dividends understands the importance of customer service and results. On-call customer service is a priority. We know we’re achieving our goals when teachers recruit other teachers by saying “anything we needed, they helped with.”

EnergyNet has developed a strategic partnership with Rapid Improvement Associates to provide schools with variety of Internet based tools that increase the students’ ability to achieve their energy reduction goals and provide a reliable view into the teams’ activities and achievements.

When we have partners in our schools and business community who are willing to trust our students with important and challenging work. Solutions to our educational and energy becomes a team effort.

Carol Timms is President of Educational Dividends and Director of EnergyNet, 877-359-9444,

The opinions and views of guest commentators are their own and may not represent those of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives or the electric co-ops of Illinois.

© 2016 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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