Native Energy Gathering enlightens students and community

CROWNPOINT, N.M. - Equipped with a few presentation props, an agenda packed with industry-leading guest speakers and an immeasurable amount of energy, students of the Walmart Grant Student Organization put together a green energy conference at Navajo Technical College (NTC) to inform the community about current energy-saving initiatives.

The two-day conference took place May 1-2 at NTC's Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center, and included insight from green energy's most insightful leaders.

Attendees included: Terry Battiest, a Renewable Energy Specialist with NTUA; Carol Palmer, a soil and gardening expert; Resa Oglesby, an Executive Assistant with Sacred Power Corp.; Patti Birdsbill, Manager of Eastern Affairs with Sacred Wind Communications; and Sandra Begay-Campbell, the Tribal Energy Program Coordinator for Sandia National Laboratories.

With the world heading in the direction of becoming more environmentally friendly when it comes to energy practices, the conference was not only intended to inform the community about green issues, but how the community could become more environmentally conscious.

"With an event like this, the school is giving more knowledge on energy efficiency which is good because it helps lower the energy bill and helps you understand energy and where it comes from," Begay-Campbell stated. "There is a lot of sunshine in this state, and if you are able to get energy in its natural form you protect the environment and gain energy without pollution."

To involve the community, NTC students held demonstrations of current projects that they've been working on in collaboration with faculty members. The projects presented were a solar appliance project that produced a solar oven and a solar food dehydrator, a garden project that supplied the school with both a vegetable and herb garden, and a lastly a rocket project.

While the projects were all primarily energy related, students from all fields of study helped in each project.

Zandra Trujillo, a culinary student at NTC, was involved in developing both the solar oven and the solar dehydrator and explained the benefit of the event for herself as a student, and for the community.

"I learned a lot from this project and it helped me be a better person," stated Trujillo, from Pablo Pintado, N.M. "I was really quiet and shy, but this really helped build my confidence. I never thought I'd do something like this."

"Where I'm from a lot of people don't have electricity and we're still hauling water. From this project my chapter house actually now wants to set up a date for me to do a demo and presentation to possibly use," she added.

Each student project was funded through the Walmart Minority Student Success Initiative, whose goal is to help Navajo students achieve academic success.

Student participants in each project include Ryan Manning and Geraldine Coan (garden project), Alvina Tom, Zandra Trujillo and Geraldine Coan (solar oven), Zandra Trujillo, Rewlin Roanhorse and Joni Fuenmayor (solar dehydrator), and Eric Begody, Oga John, Ross Begody and Joann Ignacio (rocket project).

The rocket team was scheduled to compete in the Tribal College portion of the First Nations Rocket Competition on

May 6-7 at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kanasville, Wis.

The challenge is based off of high-powered rockets that carry on on-board scientific payload, successfully a drogue parachute at apogee, successfully deploys a main parachute at an altitude of 600 feet and lands safely with little or no damage.

Details of how the NTC students fared were not available at press time.

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