Ever since its founding in 1972, Educational Outreach has been a primary focus for NMSEA. NMSEA has delivered thousands of hours of workshops, seminars & classes all around New Mexico covering such topics as passive solar architecture, solar thermal & PV theory & installation, bio-fuels, greenhouse design & construction, and energy efficiency.
The NMSEA SunChaser Educational Outreach Program was initiated in the late 1990’s when NMSEA volunteers, led by NMSEA President Karlis Viceps, with some modest grant funding, put together the first “SunChaser” renewable
energy education van. Several iterations of the SunChaser van/trailer, along with a large “Villager” sun oven and a variety of other solar-powered demos criss-crossed the roads of New Mexico, visiting schools and attending community fairs & events.
The SunChaser program graduated from the single trailer shown below-left (which has been retired) to a handful of renewable energy education “kits” manned by trained SunChaser instructors based at NMSEA’s local chapters. In 2011, for example, NMSEA visited 56 schools around New Mexico, and gave SunChaser presentations to over 5,900 students. In addition, NMSEA attended 28 separate Community Events. NMSEA members not only talk the talk – we also walk the walk!
Grant funding is hard to come by these days. Federal & State school reform initiatives, along with serious budget challenges, have left teachers with little time & no funds to support outside presenters.
Requests for NMSEA SunChaser programs have fallen off significantly at the same time that grant awards for this type of educational outreach have been reduced.
NMSEA still visits schools and gives SunChaser presentations, but we are moving more of our educational outreach efforts into the “cloud”, ie we are working hard to develop unique web-based educational content. The NMSEA SunTalks, and the NMSEA Renewable New Mexico video series are two examples of this new emphasis.