Sustainable Communities Course Taught this Fall at COS

This is a great program at our own College of the Siskiyous. Check out this course and help spread the word about it and the the the two-year Sustainable Communities Program degree. The press release…

In the “Introduction to Sustainable Communities” course offered Fall 2011 at the College of the Siskiyous, students learn collaborative leadership skills while discovering small business opportunities and the choices available in America’s fast growing green job markets.  Classes start August 16th, and meet Tuesdays and Thursdays with two Saturday field trips. Registration is now open and space is still available.  Program information can be explored at  Course number is ERSC 1001, and the course meets the “understanding diversity” requirement needed to graduate.  “Introduction to Sustainable Communities” is the foundational course for the COS two-year Sustainable Communities Program degree or certificate in the Career and Technical Education department.

A “green” job, as defined by the Centers of Excellence, Economic and Workforce Development, and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office is “an occupation that 1) directly works with policies, information materials, and/or technologies that contribute to minimizing environmental impact, and 2) requires specialized knowledge, skills, training, or experience in these areas.”

The training and development paths needed to be successful in starting your own business or getting a green job that supports a sustainable community will be explored in-depth.  Career and business opportunities are introduced and explored in the fields of; renewable energy technologies, outdoor leadership, green building and energy efficiency, waste and recycling, stream and habitat restoration, conflict analysis and communication, food, farming and ranching, sustainability planning, and sustainable land management and conservation easements.

“At the beginning of the semester, my definition of sustainability was living off the land,” says former student Bill Miebach. “It has been a real eye, brain, and spirit opener.  Learning how to work together as a community is going to bring change faster than a hand full of individuals working separately. Since thinking this way, I have seen a lot of positive change in my life.”

The popular introductory course uses Siskiyou County as a unique laboratory for learning about sustainability from multiple perspectives and at many different scales.  Student field trips include outings such as an in-depth look at the Castle Lake Environmental Research and Education Program laboratory, (which is the longest running limnology lab in the country), the Prather Ranch, a successful closed-herd sustainable ranching operation, and a look into small scale food production enterprises.  Close interaction with the scientists and managers are encouraged to build familiarity with job and career experiences.

Students also enjoy having local professionals as presenters and on panels in the classroom with plenty of time for questions and answers.  In addition, national presenters via video technology explore a range of topics from international sustainable development, to resource conflict resolution, to strengthening local economies.

“Teaching is an incredibly rewarding experience,” says Instructor Meadow Barr, who holds a Masters in Conservation Education.  “Each semester I’m amazed at the diversity of student backgrounds and how much everybody learns. It is awesome to see students stumble with complex vocabulary and concepts at the beginning of the semester, and then demonstrate their understanding with great fluency when they give their final presentations.  This class is interactive, hands-on, integrated, and participatory.  Effort is made to engage different learning types and make complex material fun and accessible to all students.”

Guest lecturers in the course include; COS Microbiology instructor Dr. Bill Odegard and COS biology instructor Alison Varty will provide a sustainable transportation lecture and instruct a biodiesel making lab.  Environmental Geographer Dr. Rene Henery, will give ecology and biodiversity lectures and facilitate the Castle Lake field trip and water quality labs.

“Here in Siskiyou County and across the globe,” says Henery, people are adjusting to a changing physical, environmental, cultural and ecological climate.   One goal of the Introduction to Sustainable Communities course is to empower individuals with information and concepts that will help them understand the complexities and challenges of this period in history.”

The purpose of the Sustainable Communities program at College of the Siskiyous is to provide students with practical skills and in-depth exploration of the interdependent relationships between people and natural systems to develop sustainable small businesses, secure jobs, and build successful careers.

Registration is now open and space is still available.  Program information can be explored at  To learn more about the Introduction to Sustainable Communities and the degree program contact Program Coordinator Joy Taylor at  To register for the class go to