The EcoFellowship Experience: Jonathan Ruiz

Hello! My name is Jonathan Ruiz and I am an EcoFellow at the Center for EcoTechnology. I graduated last April from the University of Michigan with a degree in Environmental Science. My desire to work in the environment started when I took an Environmental Sustainability class in high school. From then on I wanted to learn everything I could about environmental practices. My senior year of college I went back and forth on how I could make an impact, but also find a career I would enjoy being a part of. Upon finding the EcoFellowship, I knew I had to apply since it was everything I was looking for. Over the course of the last five months I have developed a plethora of professional skills: project management, direct installations, and outreach and education development. In the coming months, I hope to find more ways I can make an impact in the natural and built environment. The skills I have attained so far, through the EcoFellowship, have helped me progress not only as a professional, but as an individual.

My role as an EcoFellow

As the Outreach and Education EcoFellow one of my roles is providing information across Western Massachusetts about CET’s programs. This consists of tabling at farmers markets, organizing webinars and lunch & learns, and speaking at schools in the area. Each week is different and events change month to month, which makes my role at CET engaging and stimulating. The demographics of the audience I do outreach for ranges. I have presented to 3rd graders all the way up to senior citizens, which has been very important in helping all types of people become environmentally conscious. I would say that my main focus and goal as the Outreach and Education EcoFellow is to spread the word about how there are always opportunities for waste reduction and energy efficiency in our lives. We do outreach for existing partners, but I am always looking for new opportunities in the area to effectively communicate how CET can help. I spend a large portion of my time in the office and that time is reserved for planning presentations, keeping in contact with business leads, and professional development. 

What skills have you learned during your EcoFellowship that will help you in future professional endeavors? 

Most people will say that public speaking is a tough task to take on, and even as the Outreach EcoFellow I would have to agree. There are various forms of communicating and you have to find the right way to tackle each scenario. Whether I am emailing, calling, meeting in person or presenting, each communicative scenario requires a slightly different skill. I know that all of these skills will be of help to me in the future, and CET has helped me immensely with public speaking. I have also learned how to do direct installations for commercial buildings, and this is a skill I intend on using in my future professional career. It seems simple now to do a direct install, but there are many components that go into working on a large building to make it more energy efficient. Here at CET there is always an opportunity to work on different projects and programs, and because of this my skill set will continue to improve as I continue my EcoFellowship.

What is your favorite project you have worked on?

The project I have been working on since the start of my fellowship is our Solar Access program. I have done outreach, made phone calls to leads, worked with our marketing team, and made webinars and detailed presentations, all in an effort to get the word out about this amazing program. The fact that Solar Access gives outright ownership for solar panels and an air source heat pump to middle-lower income homeowners is amazing. There is so much that goes into this program and it requires many team members to develop it further. I would have to say it’s my favorite because it’s the newest, so it has created a lot of challenges, but facing the adversity and getting over the point of success is so rewarding.

What has been your favorite professional development opportunity?

Here at CET I can always extend my work further than outreach and education, so when the opportunity to do a direct install at the Mass Mutual Center was available I asked if I could learn how the process unfolds. I had a preconceived view on direct installs since I thought it was a quick walk through of a building to change out the aerators and shower heads along the way. I learned that it requires a lot of planning in advance, the first visit is a walk through to see what’s available for change, and then on the second visit it’s the installation. There is math and critical thinking involved every step of the way since there can be limitations on what can be changed. I would say this was my favorite professional development opportunity because after learning how to do direct installs, I was asked to help with direct installs at Agawam public schools, a YMCA, and a senior center. From this professional development experience I was able to transpire the work I learned and apply it later on.

Why is this EcoFellowship a unique experience?

This fellowship has many opportunities that have allowed me to figure out what I want to do with my education and future career. The greatest thing about the fellowship is how it is a year long. If I decide to further my career in the environment, not only do I have the professional experience, but I have gained new skills and immensely increased my professional development. If I want to go to graduate school, I would have the opportunity to apply and start after the fellowship! The experience of making an impact and working with people face-to-face in the area is genuinely uplifting. I knew from the first day of working at CET that I would love what I do here. Each day I am challenged and able to work on a variety of different programs. The entire experience of being an EcoFellow is unique, engaging, and above all amazing!

If you’re interested, click here to apply! 


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