Alaska Forum - News 

Green Star® Update

September 17, 2018

kids.png

The Alaska Forum Green Star® Community program organized five on-site backhaul events serving seven villages in the middle Kuskokwim region, summer 2018. The backhaul events focused on collecting, packaging, and removing common household hazardous wastes from the village, as well as served as outreach for village residents on the risk of not managing household hazardous wastes appropriately. Central Recycling Services and NRC teamed up with Green Star® to implement on-site collection and packaging of waste and recyclables, as well as handling and transportation for disposal.

The middle Kuskokwim backhaul project was made possible through a substantial financial contribution from Nova Gold and Donlin Gold. Villages that participated in the 2018 program were enrolled in or had completed the Green Star® Community program. The Green Star® Community program is funded through the USDA Rural Development program and provides technical assistance and recognition to rural communities that wish to implement waste reduction, energy conservation, pollution prevention, and to promote a healthier environment. This summer's project served as a pilot project for future backhaul efforts planned for the region.

Training and Apprenticeship Update

September 14, 2018

Change can be a good thing! Our Training and Apprenticeship Program is evolving to help meet employer needs and job opportunities. We will be announcing expanded offers to include more entry-level credentials for a variety of environmental positions including environmental worker, forestry worker, and much more.
So far in 2018 we have instructed over 50 trainees and awarded 300+ certificates!

We also are excited to announce that we have been awarded a grant from Alaska Department of Labor and the US Environmental Protection Agency! You can expect new trainings, new locations, and new partnerships. You'll find out more about our training opportunities in Training Calendar beginning this October!

This past year has been an exciting time of change for the Alaska Forum Training and Apprenticeship programs. We began last fall by undertaking a Labor Market Analysis to provide a better idea of what employment opportunities existed in Alaska for environmental technicians and what essential training is required for those positions. These surveys and the conversations we had with industry and community representatives afterwards helped shape the content and locations of the trainings offered this past spring and going forward. We also spent some time looking at our apprenticeship program in light of changing job markets and how we could better tailor our trainings to fit the current employment needs of rural Alaskans. Opportunities are increasing for skilled, seasonal workers – often in rural areas of the state. We see a need for a broader environmental worker training program that includes the Environmental Technician Apprenticeship along with a variety of entry-level and basic certifications and credentials required for a range of environmental positions. To better reflect this expansion of our training content, we have decided to update the name of our program to the Environmental Training and Apprenticeship Program – still ETAP, but better!

Much of the work we did for the Labor Market Analysis was in preparation of the completion of a proposal to the US EPA to continue our funding under the Environmental Workforce Development Job Training grant program. This funding allows Alaska Forum to offer basic, required training for jobs connected with environmental monitoring, cleanup, and remediation to a broader audience. With input and assistance from many of our partners – old and new – a proposal was submitted in December 2017, and we were notified in May that our request would be fully funded, allowing ETAP to continue offering those trainings for another two years. Even before we received that good news, we prepared and submitted another proposal to the Alaska Dept. of Labor to continue receiving the State Training and Education Program funds that provided the backbone of our ETAP program.

But before we could worry too much about that proposal, it was training time! Our first successful training was a two-week long Environmental Sampler Training held in Anchorage. Participants came from across the state and received certifications for OSHA HAZWOPER 40 hour, OSHA General Industry 10 hour, First Aid and CPR, Confined Space, Basic GIS/GPS skills, and Alaska Sampler training. Thirteen students graduated from the full 80 hours of training. Following that, we collaborated with the Alaska Native Regional Corporation Chugachmiut to offer something entirely new for ETAP - a two-week Forest Technician training in Palmer. This training was in direct response to a need expressed to Alaska Forum for skilled workers to assist with forest inventory work associated with newly developing carbon credit projects on Native lands. Our training offered basic safety training for remote settings along with an intensive on forest measurement techniques. Seventeen participants completed the training and many of these graduates were able to return to existing forest tech jobs or acquired a job after completing the training. At the same time, also in Palmer, we answered a request for training from a local community Brownfields Response team and were able to offer the OSHA 40-hour HAZWOPER along with the Alaska Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead training. Twelve new and returning students completed all or part of this training, hosted by the Knik Tribal Council in their new Palmer office. Our final training of the year was an OSHA 40-hour HAZWOPER certification for residents of Port Graham and Nanwalek. This course was offered again in collaboration with Chugachmiut and followed a 40-hour Red Card certification.
All together, over 50 individuals received training from the Alaska Forum ETAP this past fiscal year and we have awarded over 300 Certificates of Completion to graduates of our programs.

To cap our very successful year, just as training was coming to an end, we were notified that our STEP proposal from Alaska Department of Labor would be fully funded for the upcoming fiscal year. This award, along with the EPA EWDJT grant awarded in May, will ensure that the Alaska Forum ETAP will continue offering valuable job training programs and supporting a local workforce to meet the need for skilled and certified environmental workers in Alaska.

We are excited to be looking at another year of working with all of our partners and current and future graduates. 

To learn more about how you can join this program as an employer or apprentice, please call us at (907) 202-9612, or email Meg Burgett at mburgett@akforum.org.