By Kelley Welf on May 31, 2013
On Thursday May 23, EDP Renewables staff from Houston joined the O&M staff at Pioneer Prairie and Prairie Star Wind Farms in LeRoy, Minn., for a celebration of wind energy. “In hosting this event, EDP wanted first and foremost to inform and educate the next generation about the power and beauty of wind energy; and secondly, to connect with our neighbors and the community stakeholders who help make successful wind farms,” said Adam Renz, Communications Associate for EDP.
Arrangements and a partnership agreement with the LeRoy School District were put into place and EDPR was given the oppurtunity to host the 4th and 5th grade students for an afternoon of learning about the science and engineering behind wind energy as well as the multitude of environmental benefits of renewables. The students also learned about the wide variety of jobs available in wind energy.
The event was hosted by the on site operations team (Justin VanBuesekom, Ann Oltjen, Brodie Dockendorf and Kevin Clark) and the Houston contingent (Vanessa Tutos, Christopher Goldsberry, John Taylor and Adam Renz). After a safety briefing and welcome message by Operations Manager Justin VanBuesekom, the students were led into a Wind 101 class and then broke into groups to rotate through the O&M maintenance facility and learn about turbine engineering. In the O&M facility students learned about the tools and safety gear involved in maintaining and operating wind farms. Vestas and EDPR operations staff helped them try on the safety harness and handle equipment used by site teams on a daily basis. During the turbine engineering class, helpers from IWEA (Iowa Wind Energy Association) explained how turbines work and students watched a slide show led by John Taylor showing the stages of a wind farm’s construction. Following the presentations the students built their own Kidwind turbines and tested them out in the blustery LeRoy field next to the building. After a BBQ lunch prepared by the EDPR team, the students faced off in foot races designed to replicate the height of the Vestas towers in use in LeRoy.
After the educational activities, EDPR staff led a tour of the O&M and site for legislators, journalists, and county tax assessors from both Iowa and Minnesota, and others. The tour conlcuded with a reception at a local venue and served as an opportunity for networking and question and answer time.
“This was our first event of this kind and we were very pleased to receive high marks from local leaders, school officials and most importantly, the students,” said Renz. “We look forward to expanding and improving this model in the future, and to do more events like this across the country. These events provide a huge return on investment and they help us as an industry expand our brand and teach the next generation of Americans about the benefits of wind energy.”
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