Inver Hills partnering with city in collaboration with Xcel Energy
In March 2021, the City Council of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, approved the city’s Energy Action Plan. Working with homeowners and renters, business owners and commercial tenants, multifamily property managers and owners, and schools, nonprofits, and places of worship, Inver Grove Heights has set new goals and strategies to save energy and money throughout the community.
Ally Sutherland, the city’s environmental specialist, reported that 22 community stakeholders, including Inver Hills Community College, helped the city create the plan over seven months through a free, two-year collaboration with Xcel Energy.
“As our city continues to grow, sustainable development and community partnerships are top priorities,” Ally reported. “We are excited to foster new relationships with businesses, nonprofits, residents, and educational institutions through a shared commitment to the Inver Grove Heights Energy Action Plan.”
Ally added that the city is eager to put the plan into action alongside Inver Hills.
“With more than 3,500 enrolled students, 290 employees, and nine campus buildings, the college is a key stakeholder in the city’s energy initiatives,” she said. “Starting this fall, we will collaborate to provide direct outreach to the Inver Hill community of students, faculty, and staff on shared energy goals and how to take simple actions that contribute to larger impacts.”
The content of the Energy Action Plan was derived from a series of planning workshops hosted by Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy (PIE). The IGH Energy Action Team contributed many hours of service creating the plan’s vision, goals, and strategies.
Two Inver Hills staff members serve on the committee, Randi Goettl, accessibility resources director, and Shannon Williams, community-based learning coordinator. Both Randi and Shannon are integral members of the college’s Sustainability Committee and The Bee’s Knees Committee. They are also actively involved with the Inver Hills Community Garden & Orchard on campus.
“Shannon and I have been meeting monthly with our Energy Action Plan teammates for more than a year,” Randi said. “We’ve been researching a number of partnership opportunities with the city and Xcel Energy. Paul DeMuth, director of operations at Inver Hills and Dakota County Technical College, and Erica Kantola, our college’s facilities and operations coordinator, have been very supportive of our efforts.”
Shannon related that the college is seeking Inver Hills students passionate about energy, the environment, and sustainability to help provide outreach to area community members throughout the school year.
“Whether students are considering an environment-related career or are passionate about climate justice, the experience and contacts they make will be helpful for their future,” she said. “There are so many opportunities to get involved. I’m confident that we can find a volunteer opportunity that fits your interests!”
Partnership ideas include:
- Sign up Inver Hills facilities for energy audits with Xcel Energy
- Explore renewable energy opportunities
- General outreach regarding the Energy Action Plan, energy efficiency, and renewable energy
- Partnership with instructors and their courses, e.g., Environmental Justice literature class and VIBE Club Annual Service Trip
- Support renewable energy industry through job fairs and internship opportunities
- Identify Inver Hills students interested in providing energy outreach to community members
Randi noted that the college has already hired an Inver Hills student, Cassandra Zavala, 22, for the position of sustainability special projects assistant. Cassandra has been assigned the principle task of exploring the potential to design and implement a nature trail, the Unity Trail Project, around the Inver Hills campus with the aim to honor the native history of the land.
Originally from Owatonna, Minnesota, Cassandra is earning her Health Sciences Broad Field A.S. at Inver Hills. She’s undecided about her transfer plans, but is looking forward to finding a career that suits her interests and then go from there.
“Being part of Inver Hills as a student and as an assistant working on sustainability projects has impacted my perspective,” Cassandra said. “I’m exploring energy goal-oriented ways to keep our campus green and enlighten the community.”
Sustainability at Inver Hills
Flexible degree option within the life sciences
Inver Hills Community College is offering a new Environmental Science Associate of Science (A.S.) degree for fall semester 2021. The 60-credit degree offers you a flexible degree option within the life sciences. You will have the opportunity to complete your A.S. degree with courses and credits that transfer to a four-year program in Environmental Science or related majors such as Natural Resources, Fisheries and Wildlife, or Conservation Biology.
Sustainable environment projects at Inver Hills
The Inver Hills Community Garden & Orchard is an interdisciplinary, cooperative effort that engages Inver Hills Community College students, staff and faculty along with members of area communities. The Inver Garden encompasses a 1-acre communal garden, 38 individual plots, an apple orchard and a 50-seat outdoor classroom for classes, meetings, visiting speakers and concerts.
College first in Minnesota and 83rd in country to be certified
Inver Hills Community College has become the first educational institution in Minnesota and the 83rd in the United States to be certified as an affiliate of the Bee Campus USA program, designed to marshal the strengths of educational campuses for the benefit of pollinators. Inver Hills joins more than 150 other cities and campuses across the country united in improving their landscapes for pollinators.
Tribute to traditional territory of Wahpekute, Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ and Očeti Šakówiŋ
Initiated by Randi Goettl, director of accessibility resources, Michael Birchard, associate vice president of equity and inclusion, and Tim Follett-Dion, sustainability special project assistant, in collaboration with the American Indian Advisory Council at Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College, the Inver Hills Unity Trail Project proposes redesigning, enhancing and expanding an existing nature trail on the west side of the college’s campus in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.
Amphibian Research at Inver Hills
Inver students investigated the impact of an environmental pathogen on our campus. The chytrid fungus called Bd (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) has been contributing to amphibian declines worldwide and has been found on our campus.
Working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biology students and faculty from Inver Hills conducted a survey to inspect trees for emerald ash borer in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
Inver Hills Biology Instructor James Schneider leads July 2019 trip
Biology Transfer Pathway A.S. Degree
The Biology program at Inver Hills Community College is the doorway to a career dedicated to one of the two main branches of natural science. One branch is physical science, which involves studying nonliving phenomena and includes physics, chemistry and astronomy.
The other is life science, or biological science, which involves studying life and living organisms. Biologists explore the living world around us, including the life stories of baobab trees, blue whales, human beings and even nanobacteria, the latter one billionth of a meter in diameter (10 times smaller than bacteria), but big on controversy, challenging notions on what’s alive and what’s not.
Show your passion. Volunteer for a sustainable community.
Are you an Inver Hills student interested in volunteering for sustainability outreach projects and events? Here’s your chance to make a difference. Learn more by contacting:
Community-Based Learning Coordinator
Inver Hills Community College
Shannon will notify you about upcoming volunteer opportunities.
Xcel Energy Specialty LED Kit
Randi mentioned that Xcel Energy has already donated Special LED Kits to the college to help conserve energy. The kits contain LED, dimmable, ENERGY STAR-listed lamps. The screw-in bulbs are warm white 2700K and the linear lamps are 3500K. Learn more about Xcel Energy’s energy-saving programs by visiting Energy Solutions for Your Home or Business.
Jake Sedlacek: Xcel Energy perspective
Jake Sedlacek works as community relations and economic development manager for Xcel Energy. Jake also serves as chair of the Inver Hills Foundation Board of Directors. His responsibilities at Xcel Energy involve supporting 30-plus communities as a resource in the areas of operations, energy policy, emergency response, social investments, economic development, and business retention and expansion.
“Xcel Energy is committed to working with our customers and communities to help them to meet their energy goals, including reducing energy use, using more renewable energy, and lowering carbon emissions,” Jake said. “The Partners in Energy (PIE) program helps communities seeking our expertise and guidance as they generate formal energy programs and sustainability strategies. We’re proud to work with Inver Grove Heights as they put their clean energy plan into action with Inver Hills Community College.”
Learn more about the IGH Energy Action Plan, Xcel Energy Partners in Energy (PIE), and sustainability efforts at Inver Hills by contacting:
Director of Accessibility Resources
The Bee’s Knees Committee Lead
Inver Hills Community College
Community-Based Learning Coordinator
Inver Hills Community College
Partners in Energy Program Manager