Sierra Club Environmental Career Apprenticeship Program
October 13, 2014 through April 10, 2015
The 2014-15 Class of Apprentices will have the awesome opportunity to work for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. Mother Jones described this campaign as "a grassroots rebellion [that] is winning the biggest victory yet on climate change." As an Apprentice with Beyond Coal, one would have the opportunity to work on grassroots organizing, administrative policy advocacy, data analysis and research, and public communications.
Abundant opportunities to explore and enjoy while protecting the planet
Featured Story: O'neil Pryce, Apprentice 2013 - 14
As my senior year of college came to an end I wondered how I could continue to support my passion for environmental advocacy, promote sustainable practices among the millennial generation, while getting a regular paycheck. As I continued my nightly search scrambling the internet for environmental jobs I came across the Sierra Club Apprenticeship Program. After applying and completing the interview process, I received a voicemail from Matt (a former apprentice) asking me to return his call because he had some exciting news to share with me! Following a three day training session at Sierra Club headquarters in San Francisco I was on a plane to Boston (my new home for the next 6 months). As I landed my journey began. While in Boston I worked on EPA carbon standard hearings, lobbied state representatives at the Massachusetts State House, and met with staff members for both Senator Markey and Warren's offices to support a Coal Free Massachusetts.
As I look back, I can wholeheartedly say working as an apprentice on the Beyond Coal Campaign was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I was able to work with several millennial groups from different colleges and universities, and learn how to help constituents connect with their elected representatives to help foster positive growth in Massachusetts.
Now I contribute to the progressive movement as a Program Coordinator for the Democracy Initiative of which the Sierra Club is a convening member. Through my work I am able to protect our environment and our democracy.
Featured Story: Aisha Farley, 2012
"Brinnnng! In the midst of moving my twin sister's mountain of belongings from her college dorm, my phone rang...In a rush, I picked up. On the other line was Kate Colarulli from the Sierra Club's Apprenticeship Program. I had been accepted into the 2012 class of Sierra Club's apprenticeship program...the day after my commencement from Tufts University. Several weeks later extremely excited and slightly overwhelmed, I boarded a plane to Los Angeles, CA to start my new position as a Sierra Club Apprentice for the next six months.
"My organizing home, the Los Angeles Beyond Coal Campaign, was fighting the ambitious battle of moving Los Angeles off of coal fired power by 2025. Needless to say, it was a memorably busy six months and I sprung into action immediately. The Los Angeles Beyond Coal Campaign has some of the most experienced and inspirational activists that I have ever met. Their analysis of the issue and personal stories of why they participated in the campaign reminded me that the most passionate climate activists are not just in the media, but your everyday Americans striving for justice.
"The apprenticeship program was extremely rewarding and transformational. I was able to gain organizing skills through actual experience. The Los Angeles team trusted me and further developed my leadership skills so that I could lead projects with volunteers.
"Now I work with an amazing group of critical and engaged students at Crenshaw High on increasing awareness about open space issues in South LA, and constantly refer to my apprenticeship experience for guidance. Through experiential learning, they are developing as leaders and taking ownership of environmental issues in their community. Without the opportunity that the Apprenticeship program provided, I doubt I would have been able to participate in such fulfilling work immediately after graduating. Needless to say, I'm glad I did not miss Kate's call."
Featured Story: Justin Guay, 2009
"I worked on the federal and international climate change team in the run up to the international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009. I was in charge of building capacity for the clubs volunteers to help them understand the international process and how the potential cap and trade bill would impact the negotiations. It culminated with a trip to Copenhagen to watch the negotiations first hand. It was an incredible experience that has taught me a lot about global negotiations and the importance of work at a more local level.
"Ultimately, I came back from Copenhagen with the understanding that we needed a different approach to solving climate change and ending the political vice grip fossil fuels have on our national and international processes. Its a big reason I love the Beyond Coal campaign work which is directly confronting this power in order to increase our ability to ultimately pass comprehensive climate legislation and sign a global treaty.
"I now contribute by working to end international public finance for new coal projects with a group of global partners. It's been a great experience and it all started with the apprenticeship program."
"Through the Apprenticeship Program I gained more than the professional skills and experience necessary to organize campaigns and foster environmental change. I gained a network of lifelong friends and mentors who help guide my life forward in both a professional and personal setting. Not only was it extremely fun and rewarding to work with Sierra Club staff and volunteers, it was great to connect with other Apprentices who are finding their footing as we figure out what to do with our post-graduate selves. It's a challenging but life-transforming experiencing that has brought me to where I am now."
-- Kiersten Iwai, 2013 - 14
"Coming from a non-environmental background, I can't deny that I was a little nervous about diving into the deep end with the apprenticeship program in one of the reddest states in the country but my transition was remarkably fluid. From the start, this program invests in your growth and development at an intimate level to where you can strengthen your strengths and boost up your weaknesses. This tailored level of support from this program is what led to me be where I am in with this fight in Texas and I would not have it any other way. I strongly encourage those that are completely new to the movement to discover what it could mean to them and how it could shape their future for the better."
--Sarah Sharif, 2013 - 14
"Recent grads learn about different aspects of the environmental movement and begin to figure out which roles they want to play in the movement. Some will be organizers, business owners, policy analysts, politicians, researchers, etc., but all will be touched and driven to be environmental champions wherever life takes them."
-- Aisha Farley, 2012
"The Apprenticeship Program shaped my life and career for the better. I wouldn't be where I am today without the job training, mentorship, and dedication of the Apprenticeship program and the amazing leaders who ran the program."
-- Chandler Sherman, 2011
"The apprenticeship is a full-immersion experience that gives people real responsibilities and real experience. That's what the movement needs and that's what the apprenticeship provides."
-- Flavia la Fuente, 2010
"Being given the opportunity to do something that I feel so strongly about and making what I see as a contribution to society has been very meaningful for me. This self-content is coupled with the chance to move to another state and dive into something new. That challenge is something that I can feel has changed me and has had a deep impact on the way I'm viewing my life nowadays."
-- Lydia Avila, 2010
Have a valuable and lasting impact with Sierra Club in moving Beyond Coal
"My favorite moment was when we were working towards getting people out to the coal ash hearing in Chicago. We made tons of calls before heading out to Chicago and in Chicago we papered strategic neighborhoods with invitations to attend.
When the day finally came for the hearing, hundreds of people showed up, we totally outnumbered the opposition, and people were so grateful to have an opportunity to talk about why regulating coal ash was important to them. It was amazing getting to see your hard work pay off." - Andrea Sanchez
The Beyond Coal campaign began in 2002 as a small, dedicated group of volunteers and staff, in response to a closed door meeting between the Bush administration and the coal industry. At that meeting, a plan had been outlined to quickly construct 150 new coal fired power plants across the country, a "coal rush" that would have locked the nation into using 19th century dirty fuels for the foreseeable future. Working with allies, students on university campuses, and local groups in neighborhoods across the country, Sierra Club volunteers began fighting the coal industry's efforts to build these plants.
The campaign quickly grew as more people spoke up to bring cleaner sources of energy to their communities. Together, volunteers have achieved one victory after another and have fundamentally shifted the country's energy future toward a cleaner, more sustainable path. Coal burning is responsible for one-third of US carbon emissions. Coal pollution is responsible for about 13,000 premature deaths every year, more than $100 billion in annual health costs and over 200,000 asthma attacks annually.
Today, the coal campaign has stopped more than 165 coal-fired power plants from being built and more than 145 plants and 415 boilers have retired or announced retirement. In numbers, about 206 million metric tons of carbon pollution have been prevented from polluting our air.
More about the Beyond Coal Campaign.
Take your skill set to the next level with on-the-job professional trainings
Class of 2010 attends a training on how to give and receive feedback.
The Sierra Club's Apprenticeship Program includes a wide range of professional development trainings and opportunities to help participants take the next steps in becoming the next generation of environmental leaders. Trainings focus on critical professional skills such as project and time management, team building, managing your manager, networking, resume writing and interviewing, public speaking, social media best practices, and budgeting 101.
"I was trusted with a level of responsibility unparalleled by that of my peers outside the Club, and I could see the tangible impacts of my work. While all my friends were entering data into spreadsheets, I got to see my work make a real difference to bring clean energy online. I felt capable, I felt trusted, and I felt powerful. I couldn't imagine a better first job experience, that taught me to never settle and always keep fighting (both for what I believe in, and for what I'm capable of)."
-- Chandler Sherman
"The training on networking as well as 'managing up' still stand out as helpful sessions. Networking is as important as everyone says it is. Work and life are about personal relationships and the ability to manage those relationships in an effective and productive way. A career doesn't need to and often won't follow a linear path; no matter where my path takes me I know the Apprenticeship gave me an excellent foundation upon which to build my career. "
-- Jared Robinson
2014-15 Apprenticeship Program Co-Directors