Cuesta College is taking steps to meet society’s sustainability needs of today and the future.

In several months, the Cuesta Sustainability Resource Center (CSRC) will be fully operational and will also integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based sustainability content through the San Luis Obispo County school systems, P-16 and the local community. The center, which will be located on Cuesta College’s North County campus, will provide resources and training for teachers at all grade levels and delivery of sustainability learning modules to students both at Cuesta College and local schools.

“We are thrilled to have our vision for a sustainability center at Cuesta College become a reality,” said Cuesta College biology faculty member Derrick Lavoie. “The CSRC has the potential to become a significant seed of sustainability, which we envision will grow and branch out to all areas of our community, bringing knowledge, skills, awareness, inspiration and connectedness among many disciplines.”

According to Lavoie, the CSRC’s ultimate goal is to educate all citizens of San Luis Obispo County in sustainability practices and concepts in order to move toward a more sustainable economy, environment and society. The Atascadero Unified School District will be the initial recipient of the center’s work and plans to partner in the future with any renewable energy projects that result.

“Beginning with our most remote and rural elementary school, Carrisa Plains Elementary School, to Atascadero High School's Greenhound Academy, students in Atascadero have much to offer and have much to learn through the Cuesta Sustainability Resource Center,” said Atascadero Unified School District’s Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Kathy Hannemann. “I sincerely appreciate the valuable input we are able to provide to ensure this experience is one that prepares our students for 21st-Century skills using Common Core State Standards.”

The project will operate through a grant provided by MidAmerican Solar, SunPower and NRG. The project will be administered by Cuesta College Workforce Development and Community Programs and is fully funded for seven years.

“Cuesta College is thrilled to be a part of this project,” said Cuesta College President Dr. Gil Stork. “It is our intent to work with our K-12 partners to disseminate high-quality sustainability education to all grade levels and schools in San Luis Obispo County so the principles and best practices of sustainability become systemic throughout every aspect of our educational system.”

The Conditional Use Permits of the utility-scale solar power projects on the Carrizo Plain, developed by SunPower, NRG and MidAmerican Solar, stipulate the establishment of a renewable energy and sustainability educational component for San Luis Obispo County.

“We have great expectations for the center,” said MidAmerican Solar General Manager Neal Poteet. “We have confidence in the future success of the center and its benefits to the local community.”

The Cuesta College Planning and Budget Committee voted to support the CSRC at its meeting in November 2012. No Cuesta College District funds will be expended, and there is no obligation for Cuesta College to maintain the project; however, future funding will likely be pursued.

“At NRG, we feel that educational resource centers are vitally important in contributing to current and future sustainability efforts,” said Randy Hickok, senior vice president of NRG Solar Asset Management. “We are happy that we are in such an enviable position to give back to the county and community that welcomed and supported our project which will provide clean, sustainable energy to the region.”

At the K-12 level, the center will offer hands-on student-centered learning strategies to teach motivational sustainability curriculum, primarily focused on alternative energies, that address state and national STEM-based sustainability standards. At the community level, it will offer a variety of sustainability programs, fairs and events.

“The benefits of the CSRC for our community are simply awesome,” said Lavoie. 

Lauren Milbourne | (805) 546-3108 | Email: | Posted March 29, 2013