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This new solar education piece of the YouthBuild program was made possible when the Youth Corps received the Green Capacity Building Grant from the United States Department of Labor earlier this year.

The panels Sparks ordered wouldn’t produce a significant amount of energy normally, but in this training program, they won’t be hooked up to the grid at all and won’t be generating any power, Sparks said. They will be used purely for educational purposes.

The Youth Corps pursued clean energy grants and this partnership with Namaste because green jobs are on the rise, Sparks said.

“We felt like there was a lot of growth in the green economy,” Sparks said. “And this program is trying to equip these young people for going out into the workforce with a competitive advantage and experience.”

The YouthBuild team isn’t working on solar installations in the field just yet, Sparks said. They are still working at the Denver Housing Authority site, doing traditional construction work, which Huckfeldt said she loves.

“I have to be just right in the middle of it,” she said. “If I’m not, I’ll get back up there, and I won’t know what’s going on.”

In her hardhat and orange vest, she was eager to get back to work. But she said she doesn’t expect to work in construction forever.

“I’m probably going to go to college and end up doing something that isn’t manual labor at all,” she said. “But construction is fun.”

She especially likes heavy equipment, though she rarely has an opportunity to use it. She is on the electrical team and runs wire at the Denver Housing Authority site. It’s much less complicated than she would have expected, she said.

“It’s a lot of thinking ahead,” she said of running wire. “You have to be really organized.”

The experience she’s getting with electricity now could make her a good candidate for future work in solar installation, which wouldn’t be all bad, she said.

“It seems like it could be a really lucrative career,” she said of solar. “And if they could get it to work the way they want it to, it could be really good for the world.”

She enjoyed the training day with Namaste Solar and learned a lot about the technology that she didn’t know before, she said.

“They did a good job of explaining it to us,” she said of Namaste.

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Pictured: Front: Steven Martinez. Left to Right: Chuck Dolbow, Mike Bettale, Hector Garza,Thomas McInnis, Chris Wedgeworth
and Kenny Luckes