Shannon Joyce joined Energy Corps in February 2011 and is now in her second year of service as an Outreach Coordinator in the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas.
Energy Corps is a national service program in conjunction with AmeriCorps. It focuses on promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. Currently, the program is in four states: Arkansas, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Montana.
Melissa Terry, Energy Corps Coordinator for Arkansas, says Shannon stood out from the crowd of Energy Corps applicants in several dimensions. “She was passionate about the environment, she had experience working with the public and developing creative outreach programs, and she is incredibly organized,” Terry says.
Shannon was relatively new to the idea of energy efficiency and renewable energy but quickly learned the basics. She was soon attending events and making presentations to groups about saving energy – and how that equated to saving money. One of the most valuable experiences for Shannon was getting an energy assessment performed on her own home. “We had already made many retrofits to our home over the past several years: new windows, insulation in our attic, and an air conditioner and furnace; however we were not seeing the return on our investment reflected in our utility bills. After having an energy assessment on our home in May of 2011, we learned that our ducts were leaking at 85 percent. This meant that only 15 percent of the air was actually coming into our home so I knew where the problem was,” Shannon says. That June, the Joyces had their duct work sealed and have saved more than $1,000 on their utility bills in comparison to what they spent during the same time the previous year.
Aside from her own personal energy efficiency odyssey, Shannon works with the EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology) Initiative. EAST students from all across the country work on service projects in their local communities. In the 2011-2012 school year, the focus was around energy efficiency. Other programs that she has worked with are the Track & Save campaign through the Arkansas Energy Office, where she has presented at Washington County libraries about Kill-A-Watt meters and saving energy and money. Resources used regularly that are available to the public include rebate and incentive programs from local utility companies such as SWEPCO, Ozarks Electric Cooperative and SourceGas, as well as publications from EnergyStar and the Arkansas Energy Office. Currently, Shannon is planning a Sustainability Summit, set for October 2012.
“Energy Corps has opened my eyes to a whole new world,” Shannon says. “My other colleagues are all doing such amazing work in our community and state. When I look around, my fellow members are everywhere! The sustainability movement is here, and Energy Corps is helping to raise awareness and education around this precious gift of life. To sustain is to have something last forever. Just because we have done something a certain way for the past 100 years does not mean that we have to do it the same way for the next 100 years. At the current rate of consumption, we will deplete our resources and destroy what Mother Nature has given us. I am a mom of two little ones, and this mission is for them. To leave this world a better place than I found it.”
Energy Corps members are also first responders. After the tornado hit Joplin, Mo., last spring, the Arkansas Energy Corps hit the road to help in the recovery. There they set up the Red Cross shelter, canvassed the area in the debris cleanup and were sent on search crews for the missing. They were recognized at the Arkansas State Capitol for their efforts.
“It feels so good to be walking in my shoes,” Shannon says. “This experience has been like no other and I will keep marching on, making the change I wish to see, one step at a time.”