Step aboard a Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) boat for a free ride down the Missouri River and a few hours of exploration and wildlife viewing.
The Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center will host three Missouri River boat trips on Wednesday, August 21 at these times:
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
A ride on the river provides a chance to see wildlife and offers a unique vantage point to observe the Kansas City area. The trip will include discussions on the river’s history, ecology, hydrology and changes made for navigation and flood control. Discussions will also include public river access sites and using the river for canoeing, kayaking and fishing.
Registration is required for the river cruise. Space is limited. For more information or to register, call the Discovery Center at 816-759-7300 or online at MDC. Registrants will be given specific information about entry and exit locations along the river.
More than 55,000 Missourians now work in clean energy industries, an increase of 1,562 jobs in 2018, according to a new analysis of energy jobs data from Clean Energy Trust (CET) and the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).
Overall, Missouri now employs 55,869 workers in clean energy, which is 48,174 more workers than fossil fuels (7,695).
Missouri’s clean energy workforce employs more than six times as many people than all the computer programmers and web developers in the state, according to Department of Labor Employment Statistics.
Twelve Midwest states are home to 737,000 clean energy jobs, an increase of four percent in the past year. To see clean energy jobs by county in all 12 Midwest states, visit Clean Jobs Midwest.
Led by 4.2 percent growth in energy efficiency, Missouri’s clean energy jobs now make up 1.9 percent of all jobs in Missouri with employers expecting a 7.7 percent increase in jobs for 2019. Across all industries, clean jobs grew 2.9 percent in 2018.
“Clean energy is more important than ever to our economic future,” said Steve O’Rourke, principal of St. Louis-based EnerGuidance. “The transition away from reliance on fossil fuels is coming, and this report shows Missouri businesses and workers all over the state are not only benefitting, but are prepared to take advantage of a clean energy future.”
Energy efficiency again led all clean energy sectors in Missouri, employing 41,845 workers – accounting for seven in 10 of all clean energy workers. Advanced transportation came in second (5,973), followed by renewable energy generation (5,251).
TheClean Jobs Midwest report highlights Missouri’s growing importance in America’s transition to advanced transportation, with solar and wind energy now home to 4,309 jobs combined.
Contributing the most clean energy jobs were St. Louis County (12,202), Jackson County (9,167), and St. Louis City County (4,077). There are 32,588 jobs in St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas combined while 12,403 jobs came from the Missouri’s rural areas.
“With job growth across the renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and advanced transportation sectors, this report shows that Midwestern economies are benefiting from the clean energy industry,” said Erik G. Birkerts, CEO of Clean Energy Trust. “This report indicates that the Midwest is creating jobs in the clean energy industry more quickly than the rest of the country – a sign the Midwest is a good place for clean energy businesses to grow.”
Detailed and interactive breakdowns of Missouri’s clean energy economy are available at Clean Jobs Midwest – including job totals for every Missouri county, congressional district, and state legislative district.
Specifically, the report showed:
1,889 Missourians now work in grid modernization (1,201) and energy storage (688).
Construction (50.5%) and manufacturing (22.6%) make up the majority of clean energy jobs.
Electric power generation jobs using fossil fuels (3,259) employed 1,992 less workers than renewable energy generation jobs (5,251).
Small businesses are driving Missouri’s clean energy sectors, with 70.5 percent of clean energy businesses employing fewer than 20 individuals.
10.3 percent of Missourians employed in clean energy are veterans, compared to the national average of six percent.
Challenge your family and friends to a greener July 4th celebration with these ideas, and have fun while reducing your impact on air quality this holiday.
Traditionally, Independence Day is full of fireworks, barbecue and outdoor activities that Americans look forward to every year. However, the environmental impact of lighting the skies of your neighborhood is less positive.
According to the Mid-America Regional Council, local air quality is compromised whenever chemicals are ignited, and this in turn contributes to pollution. Smoke, accelerants and heavy metals emitted by fireworks are especially risky for people with asthma, and traces of these chemicals can linger in the air and water weeks after the fireworks are extinguished.
But with a few simple tips, everyone could lessen these negative environmental effects, while keeping the fun and excitement in the celebration. Try these easy ideas:
Start by shopping for your picnic fare at the farmer’s market and find local veggies, fruit, bread and meat that has a very small transportation footprint.
Reduce your impact at the grill
Avoid self-lighting charcoal and petroleum-based lighter fluid. Try using a charcoal chimney, natural lighter fluids or an electric charcoal starter to grill greener. Consider joining friends for the meal prep, and light only one grill, instead of several.
Save money and reduce your contribution to air pollution by attending a professional fireworks display, instead of buying your own fireworks. (They are illegal in many cities, including Kansas City, MO). Many displays also include music, food and other festivities.
To find the best fireworks display in each state, check out the Travel and Leisure list. In Kansas City, check the Visit KC list for events.
Photo: Visit KC, Longview Lake in Jackson County, MO
Have you ever been out on a hot day and couldn’t find a place to refill your water bottle? Now there’s the Tap app that will locate water for you.
More than 1 million plastic water bottles are purchased every minute worldwide and nearly 80 percent of these end up in landfills and oceans. To combat the increasingly alarming amount of single-use plastic in the waste stream, people are turning to reusable water bottles.
But sometimes it’s difficult, or awkward, to find a place to refill. The founders of the Tap app, a global smartphone app launched in late 2918, shows users where to find refill-friendly spots in their vicinity. Restaurants and cafes in 30 countries have joined the network and appear on the app’s map. Find the app at Tap.
Children can taste the ripe fruits and vegetables and learn about healthy food, nutrition, insects and plants at the Beanstalk Children’s Garden.
The 14,500-square foot garden contains more than 300 plant varieties that grow in themed gardens to encourage learning. As part of Kansas City Community Gardens, the children’s garden was developed with a curriculum designed to teach children about growing seasons, crop rotation, insects, nutrition and plant science. There are six specialized gardens: the vegetable garden, fruit garden, herb garden, seed and grain garden, curiosity garden and water garden. Children are encouraged to sample the ripe edibles.
All plants are grown organically, demonstrating what is possible to grow in the Kansas City soil and climate. Plant varieties include figs, gourds, strawberries, raspberries, cactus, mouse melon, cotton, peanuts, popcorn, sunflowers, edible weeds and, of course, a giant beanstalk.
The garden is available for school tours, garden clubs and Girl Scout and Boy Scout field trips and can be scheduled at Beanstalk Children’s Garden or by calling 816-931-3877. Admission is $2 each for guided tours and free for individuals on self-guided tours. The garden is open until from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. – Noon on Saturdays through October 19.
The garden is located at 6917 Kensington, Kansas City, MO.
If you’re looking for eco-friendly ways to travel this summer, here are a dozen ideas ranging from simple energy-saving tips to off-grid vacation rentals that will get you out in nature and minimize your environmental impact.
Ecotourism is among the fastest-growing segments of the global tourism trade. While travel uses resources, and can harm the environment, it can also assist the environment, benefit local economies, educate travelers about environmental issues and bring a deeper appreciation of our connection to and dependence on nature.
Here are 12 ideas to minimize your environmental impact:
Explore an off-grid vacation location
If you want to go off-grid, but still have a few luxuries provided by electricity, check out the rental listings at FreeHouse for a variety of self-sufficient properties. Many of the rental listings are powered by solar panels or wind turbines and some collect water from the rain. Accommodations range from backcountry mountain huts to desert canyon retreats, remote beach houses and yurts. La Plata Canyon Mountain Escape is a self-sustaining “Earthship” design near 300,000 acres of backcountry and hiking trails near Durango, CO. If you want a more minimalist shelter, try Red River Gorgeous Cabin Rental or Oleo Ranch for wilderness adventures that may not include electricity or running water, but could include a treehouse rental. Check out state and national parks for the best campground options. Both Airbnb and VRBO also offer some off-grid vacation rentals.
Take longer trips to one locale instead of many short flights. Offset your carbon footprint by calculating and offsetting your portion of a trip’s carbon dioxide pollution. Many non-profit organizations, like Carbon Fund, (link https://carbonfund.org) will mediate your support of carbon reduction by funding projects such as wind energy in North Dakota, a gas-to-energy landfill in New Bedford or a tropical forest conservation project in the Amazon.
If you plan to drive, research the most fuel-efficient car, and if you don’t own it, rent one.
Choose options that either don’t need batteries, run on solar or use rechargeable batteries for cameras, razors and flashlights. There are several options now for solar-powered backpacks, cell phone chargers and even coolers. Survival Renewable Energy rates the top 10 best solar-powered flashlights.
Choose a hotel or tour operator with sustainable practices. Check The International Ecotourism Society member directory or just ask about the hotel’s sustainability practices.
Before you leave home, unplug unnecessary electrical devices and turn off your air conditioning. Do the same at your destination while you are not in the room.
Get some exercise
Once you reach your destination, take walk or bike to tourist attractions, or walk to public transportation as much as possible.
Eat local food
Locally grown food has a smaller environmental footprint and is usually healthier and tastier than other options. Check out local farmer’s markets.
Use reusable water bottles
Minimize waste by traveling with a reusable water bottle for everyone in your group.
Minimize shower and bath time. Did you know the average shower in America is eight minutes long? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that standard shower heads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, so the average shower uses 20 gallons of water. Delivering, treating and heating the hot water for your shower is extremely energy intensive. The longer you run the hot water, the higher your energy use and utility bills. According to the EPA, letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as turning on a 60-watt light bulb for 22 hours.
Use a hotel’s linen reuse program
If they don’t have one, request that your linens and towels not be changed every day.
Ask about composting and recycling options wherever you eat or spend the night.
Recent college graduates can get environmental work experience in a new EPA Green Intern Program.
Beginning September 30, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is establishing the Green Interns Program to train candidates for full-time EPA positions nationwide. Throughout the program, interns will receive mentoring, formal interactive training and an Individual development plan. After completing the program, they may be converted into permanent federal employees.
Potential candidates must have earned associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, professional, doctorate, vocational or technical degrees or certificates from qualifying institutions and programs within the previous two years. Veterans are eligible to apply up to six years after completing their degree or certificate. Participants will receive federal benefits.
You can help save the bees that pollinate our food production systems by joining a national movement to plant more bee-friendly gardens during National Pollinator Week, June 17-23.
“One thing is clear, Americans love pollinators and their efforts are paying off. Research in recent studies have shown that even small gardens can make a difference for pollinators by increasing diversity of bee species across urban and suburban landscapes.” says Mary Phillips, senior director at the National Wildlife Federation, one of the founders of the National Pollinator Garden Network.
By creating, planting and maintaining garden, and registering it on the Pollinator Garden Challenge map, Americans can contribute to revitalizing the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across the country.
“Anyone can plant for pollinators and join this effort to reach one million,” explains Phillips. “Every habitat of every size counts, from window boxes and garden plots to farm borders, golf courses, school gardens and more.”
These bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats and other pollinators fertilize one-third of food crops while flying from plant to plant. They “play a critical role in food security,” says Val Dolcini, president of the Pollinator Partnership, one of the network’s founding organizations.
According to Cornell University, one out of every three bites we eat is the direct result of a pollinator’s work, contributing $29 billion to America’s food production. However, pollinator declines in recent decades have been steep and severe due to habitat loss, parasites, pesticides and other threats. Monarch populations, for example, have plummeted by 90 percent in the last 20 years.
“Leaders in the garden trade and horticulture sector have stepped up to meet consumer demand for pollinator-friendly plant material and educate its professionals on sustainable methods that support habitat,” says Craig Regelbrugge of AmericanHort, another co-founding organization.
The National Pollinator Garden Network provides plant lists, hand-outs, lesson plans, training guides and many other resources to help people learn how to grow pollinator gardens in different regions of the country. Find resources at National Pollinator Garden Network.
Find local native plant resources for the Kansas City region at Deep Roots, formerly Kansas City Native Plant Initiative.
If you’d like to test drive electric vehicles (EVs) without the sales pressure and learn about EV discounts, the KCP&L Clean Charge Network is offering a unique opportunity on Saturday, June 22 in Kansas City.
Individuals can sign up for a one-hour test drive of the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 22 at the KCP&L Connect Center, 1710 Paseo, Kansas City, MO. To test drive the EVs, register in advance at KCP&L Electric Car Guest Drive.
Additionally, KCP&L customers and employees can qualify for a limited-time $3,500 discount on the 2019 Nissan Leaf and a $1,000 discount on the 2019 Chevy Bolt. EV buyers may also be eligible for up to a $7,500 federal tax credit.
According to the Clean Charge Network, plug-in EVs can cost two-thirds less than gas-powered vehicles to operate. They have no tailpipe emissions, which accounts overall for 26 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past few years, EV manufacturers have reduced “range anxiety” by increasing the distance that each EV will go on a charge. In Kansas City, KCP&L has installed more than 1,000 EV charging stations, which is the more than any other city in the United States.
When Garth Burns retires from the Associated Press next month, he also leaves a 23-year legacy of coordinating one of the longest-running vanpools from Lawrence, KS to Kansas City, MO.
Burns recently talked to RideshareKC about his experience as a champion for this little-known, but powerful, green commute option.
Like most commuters in the region, Burns used to drive alone or carpool to Kansas City every day for his job as a computer systems manager. One evening in 1993 while driving home, another driver ran a stoplight and totaled his car, shattering his knee. He was unable to drive for more than a month.
“I had heard about the Lawrence to Kansas City vanpool and decided to try it out while my knee healed,” Burns said. “At the end of the month, my wife said, ‘You’re a lot more relaxed when you get home.’”
And he got home at the same time every night. After his knee healed, he and his wife crunched the numbers and found the vanpool fee was cheaper than a car payment. They’ve been a one-car household ever since.
In 1997, Burns took over as vanpool coordinator for the route that serves eight to 10 riders per day, but has served as many as 20. Responsibilities include divvying up the monthly fee and recruiting new riders. They ride in a 12-passenger Ford Transit van provided by Commute with Enterprise, and Burns coordinates regularly scheduled maintenance.
Burns likes the flexibility and democracy of the vanpool. Members decide the route, time and driving responsibilities. Many telework from home a few days a week. So, it is a rare day when all seats are full. This allows Burns to recruit more vanpoolers than there are available seats. More members means everyone pays less. One rider calculated that if she only rode three days a week, she would save money.
Members who are approved to drive take turns while the others rest, chat, knit, read or work. The van leaves Lawrence at 6:30 a.m., so sleep is a favorite activity. All members agree to a set of rules, including the “doughnut rule” which requires tardy riders to buy doughnuts.
The vanpool has experienced some rough times — literally. Once they were given a new van with poor suspension.
“One woman had one of those step things on her belt and when she got home it showed she had gone up 39 flights of stairs just from the bumpy ride!” said Burns. “Enterprise gave us a new van, and now it’s much smoother.”
Burns has a few strategies to recruit members. “The bulletin board at work is old school, but still pretty effective,” said Burns. “And once on the way home, there was a car with a sign in its window for carpooling. I called the number and recruited the driver for the vanpool.”
The RideshareKC ride matching website has been another source for riders, and the team at Commute with Enterprise keeps a database of potential matches.
RideshareKC estimates that during his 23-year tenure, Burns’s vanpool reduced driving by more than 4.7-million miles — enough to fly to the moon and back nine-and-a-half times.
Commuters who choose to vanpool, carpool, ride a bus, streetcar or scooter, walk or telecommute to work from June 1 to August 31, can sign up to participate in the Green Commute Challenge and win prizes for their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. Learn more at Green Commute Challenge.
Story and Photo: Jenny O’Brien, RideshareKC employer outreach coordinator