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Officials from Duke Energy and St. Petersburg College join SPC students Gentian Kruja and Morgan Fouss as they flip the switch on the solar energy panels installed at the Seminole Campus.

It was a beautiful day to showcase solar energy. On Thursday, April 10, officials from Duke Energy and St. Petersburg College flipped the switch on the Seminole Campus’ array of solar photovoltaic panels, highlighting a collaboration that began with a $500,000 SunSense grant from the energy company.

“This partnership is a perfect fit,” said Seminole Provost Jim Olliver. “This project encourages students to get involved with solar energy and supports SPC’s commitment to sustainable design.”

SPC is the first and only state college to receive Duke Energy Florida’s SunSense Schools Post Secondary School Award. Previous recipients include the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida.

The energy company provided $515,803 for two solar installations at SPC – a 50 kW ground-mounted, free-standing structure on the Seminole Campus and a 50 kW array atop walkways at the Clearwater Campus. The installations join two other solar energy projects on SPC’s Clearwater Campus. Find out more about SPC’s use of solar energy and how students are involved.

“Through the SunSense program, this solar project at St. Petersburg College is playing a key role in our efforts to educate our customers on renewable energy production,” Joseph Pietrzak, Senior Program Manager for Duke Energy Florida.

LCD monitors on each campus show how much energy is produced by the arrays, and engineering and environmental technology students use the information for research. Since it was installed in December, the Seminole array has produced 18,488 kWh, enough to power 3.4 million smartphones, offset the use of 1,633 gallons of gasoline and power 770 electric cars. Follow the energy production and installation here.

“It’s going to be a new world,” said James Fenton, director of the Florida Solar Energy Center, created in 1975 by the Florida Legislature to serve as the state’s energy research institute. “This is no longer the most expensive way to make energy.”

Students from Lealman Intermediate School also attended the event and participated in educational solar activities. Students used handheld solar panels to power small motors and measure energy output.

“The young people here are going to be driving these vehicles powered by solar,” said Fenton, referring to the two alternative energy vehicles Duke brought to the event.

“My hope is that other students, current and future, will be inspired to learn more about solar energy and build a better future,” said SPC student Gentian Kruja, president of the Student Chapter of The Florida Engineering Society at SPC. After he graduates next month, Kruja plans to attend the University of Central Florida to study computer engineering.

“Through the data collected, students are not only learning about how different conditions of weather and seasons can affect the energy produced, but also how energy efficiencies are determined,” said Morgan Fouss, who will receive her A.S. degree in Environmental Science Technology from SPC next month and plans to attend law school. “We’re glad this investment was made on our campus and hope it’s just one more step in making SPC and specifically the Seminole Campus a model for sustainability practices.”

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More than 200 students celebrated Women’s History Month with a community fair at the St. Petersburg College Clearwater Campus on Wednesday, March 26.

Thirty-five vendors and community organizations were on hand to share information and resources, some of which included Project Grace, Salvation Army, American Red Cross and Florida Small Business Development. The event was sponsored by SPC Career Services and Women on the Way.

See more photos on the college’s Facebook page.

Women's History Month celebration at the Clearwater Campus

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Students fish seining (netting) and going through their catch at Howard Park.

Students fish seining (netting) and going through their catch at Howard Park.

From cave rappelling to fossil gazing, the Science Adventurer’s Club at St. Petersburg College makes experiential learning fun and interactive for all students.

The Science Adventurer’s Club is one of three student science clubs at the Clearwater Campus. In this environment, students who are interested in natural sciences can participate in research projects, field trips, lectures and community service activities. They do not have to be science majors to participate—all that is required is a passion for learning an interest in all things science.

The club got its start about three years ago when students were dissatisfied that there wasn’t an extracurricular opportunity for students to enjoy science together in a social environment.

“On several occasions, students in my science classes made comments about how they wished there was some place they could hang out and speak with other students about science,” said Monica Lara, Instructor of Natural Science at the Clearwater Campus. She is one of the club’s four faculty advisors, along with Clearwater Campus instructors Carl Opper, Erin Goergen and Mike Stumpe.

Science clubs at SPC include:

  • Environmental Consulting Society – SPC Downtown
  • Environmental Science Club – Seminole Campus
  • Sustainability Club – Tarpon Springs Campus
  • Science Adventurer’s Club – Clearwater Campus
  • Undergraduate Science Research Society – Clearwater Campus
  • Tri-Beta National Biological Honor Society – Clearwater Campus

Lara’s teaching assistant, Michael Goltz, who often was present when these conversations took place, asked whether she would be willing to serve as a club advisor if students started a new club. Goltz, who ended up serving as the club’s first president, has remained connected to the club even though he is now a student at the University of South Florida.

“I agreed to it because I thought it would be a lot of fun and that there had been a lot of people hinting that it was something they would be interested in,” Lara said. “It supplements a lot of what we discuss in class and helps it make more sense.”

Lara said the club also fosters a collaborative culture among the students. In this environment, students primarily learn from each other. As they share their experiences, they teach one another best practices on how to go about taking on various tasks and projects.

“We do have some fun, adventurous trips, but the main focus is that students have to do the science,” she said. Through the club’s many field trips, including rappelling into the Dames Caves in Citrus County, students learn about geology, sea level rises and drops, ecology and conservation.

In addition to field trips, students also participate in volunteer projects such as science fairs, beach and reef cleanups, and Marine Science Day at the University of South Florida. These opportunities and experiences allow students to network with professionals in the field and prepare them for the workforce or graduate level work.

Students also benefit from the club’s partnership with Lara’s out-of-class research group and Reef Monitoring, a 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization that she helped establish with SPC instructor Heyward Mathews in 2005.

“I enjoy getting that experience as it is helpful in preparing me for a potential career in science,” said Shannon Senokosoff, 29, a biology major and vice president of the Natural Science Adventurer’s Club. Since graduating with a degree in art from the University of South Florida, he was not satisfied working as a motion graphics designer and decided to go back to school and pursue his passion for biology at SPC.

Students in the Science Adventurer’s Club go rappelling during a field trip to the Dames Caves.

Students in the Science Adventurer’s Club go rappelling during a field trip to the Dames Caves.

“Getting out there, getting involved in the community through volunteer work and conservation, it puts you in a position where you’re interacting with people that might have positions in different organizations like the Florida Wildlife Commission,” Senokosoff said. “It helps build those connections.”

Lara said the hands-on experiential learning serves as a way to get students to understand what science is really about by doing it and not just hearing about it in a classroom.

“Getting those kinds of experiences – that experiential learning – really sticks with them for the rest of their lives,” she said.

 

Want to learn more?

The Science Adventurer’s Club meets every other Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the marine biology lab (NM 161) at the Clearwater Campus.

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The Institute for Family Violence Studies in Florida State University’s College of Social Work has partnered with the Center for Public Safety Innovation at St. Petersburg College to create a Spanish-language version of an online training program to prevent domestic violence in the homes of law enforcement officers.

siteThe Spanish-language online training went live March 17 and is free to all law enforcement agencies in Puerto Rico.

The new training is based on the curriculum offered in the National Prevention Toolkit on Officer-Involved Domestic Violence, a first-of-its-kind national initiative that was developed by Florida State researchers and launched in 2013 with funding from the Verizon Foundation.

“Our research tells us that officers in Puerto Rico, like all officers in the United States, need information about civilian domestic violence as well as information about keeping their own families free of the crime,” said Karen Oehme, director of the Institute for Family Violence Studies (IFVS).

SPC’s Center for Public Safety Innovation (CPSI) contacted IFVS to offer funding to support the translation of the existing online course in Spanish. CPSI receives funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to develop and deliver law enforcement training on a variety of topics, including community policing, ethics and domestic violence.

“When CPSI staff saw the National Domestic Violence Prevention Toolkit created by IFVS available online, we knew it would be another beneficial training resource for the law enforcement community in Puerto Rico, especially if it could be offered in Spanish,” said Eileen LaHaie, CPSI executive director. “This excellent tool will help us provide communities with information about preventing a terrible tragedy — the crime of domestic violence in the homes of officers who are hired to prevent crime.”

Staff from both the FSU institute and the SPC center saw the value in partnering to offer the training, according to LaHaie and Oehme.

“We are pleased to provide a Spanish-language version of the training,” Oehme said. “CPSI is committed to working in Puerto Rico and hired the staff needed to create a mirror-image in Spanish.”

The centerpiece of the National Prevention Toolkit is the online training, which is based on a Florida pilot prevention program that was launched in 2009. It uses a prevention-focused curriculum as the cornerstone of a multifaceted approach to educating criminal justice officers on how to prevent domestic violence in their own relationships.

The toolkit emphasizes healthy relationships and provides tips on how to support a professional workplace environment that promotes zero tolerance for officers’ domestic violence, Oehme said. The training provides interactive information about the dynamics, impact and signs of officer-involved domestic violence; new officer training through case scenarios; and video messages from fellow officers. Additional Spanish-language material will be added throughout the spring.

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Those who have questions about the Affordable Care Act or who need help enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace can get assistance in English and Spanish from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  on Friday, March 21, on the Clearwater Campus of St. Petersburg College.

The deadline for enrollment is March 31.

Throughout the event, trained and licensed Marketplace navigators and application counselors will be on-site to educate and help consumers through the application, plan selection and enrollment process.

The navigators and counselors will provide both general information and one-on-one assistance to consumers who may have specific situations or need help troubleshooting Marketplace applications.

The one-on-one sessions will take place in designated private areas.

Consumers are encouraged to make appointments for the event, but walk-in traffic is welcome.

Spanish-speaking assisters, as well as Marketplace literature and information (in English/Spanish), will be available.

The campus is at 2465 Drew St., Clearwater. The event will be on the second floor of the Ethics and Social Sciences (ES) building on the south side of the campus. Nearby parking is available.

Consumers should be prepared to enroll at the event with these documents and information:

  • Social Security Numbers & Immigration Documents (if applicable) for the household
  • Employer and income information for every member of the household (will be expected to provide a 2014 income projection)
  • Health insurance policy information if currently insured.
  • E-mail address (with username/password) for Marketplace account creation. Consumers can also create an e-mail address during the event with help from the assisters.

To make an appointment:

Call the Cognosante Tampa Bay Marketplace Office:

  • English: 813-281-4833
  • Spanish: 813-281-4683

Or email Cristian Ariza, cristian.ariza@cognosante.com or Cindy Conforti, cynthia.conforti@cognosante.com.

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act or the Insurance Marketplace:

www.HealthCare.gov

www.CuidadoDeSalud.gov

Marketplace Hotline: 1-800-318-2596

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The Music Industry /Recording Arts (MIRA) program launched its Street Team at the Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa in partnership with 88.5 WMNF Community Radio earlier this month.

The team includes student volunteers and was granted funding through an Innovation Grant from the St. Petersburg College Foundation. The goal is to expose students in the program to relevant events, professionals and networking opportunities with the potential to enhance their chances of employability.

As an extension of the festival’s mission to enhance music education, MIRA students will promote the program in their newly branded gear, network, and have the opportunity to partner with seasoned WMNF volunteers and staff.

The two-day event, March 8 and 9, was anticipated to attract 10,000 people to Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa. MIRA staff and students were sprinkled throughout the event with “I Love Music Education” stickers and MIRA Street Team t-shirts. WMNF is welcoming MIRA students to share a tent and promote the program and hand out branded stickers and sunglasses to those interested.

This was the Street Team’s first event with many more to come!

See photos from the Street Team’s Spring Break efforts on the college’s Facebook page.

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Child's Play

Kevin Grass
Child’s Play, 2013
Acrylic on panel, 60 x 44 in.

The new exhibition at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art celebrates the creative and wide-ranging talents and accomplishments of the St. Petersburg College art faculty.

The show demonstrates the commitment and dedication of the arts faculty to art education while also displaying high standards for their own artistic development.

One work in the exhibition showcases faculty members in another way. The painting Child’s Play by Kevin Grass, show here, features images of arts faculty members from the Clearwater Campus: Jonathan Barnes (on the ladder), Kim Kirchman (in the swing) and Frank Duffy (in the blue shirt). Kevin Grass’ wife Michaela Oberlaender (in the tree) teaches art history classes at the college.

The exhibition opened the week of March 6 and continues through April 20.

The exhibition features works by full-time art faculty members Jonathan Barnes, Barton Gilmore, Kevin Grass, Marjorie Greene and Kimberly Kirchman.

Participating adjunct faculty are Linda Berghoff, Frank Duffy, Ya La’Ford, Francesco Gillia, Barbara Hubbard, Elizabeth Indianos, Susan Johnson, Chris Otten, Rebecca Skelton, McKenzie Smith and Joseph Weinzettle.

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1780775_10152608847838368_1191305515_nSt. Petersburg College and the Midtown community on Saturday celebrated both the past – the legacies of leaders Douglas L. Jamerson Jr. and Cecil B. Keene Sr. – and the future of education in the community.

An event at the site where the new 49,000-square-foot Midtown campus is beginning to rise honored Mr. Keene’s and Mr. Jamerson’s contributions to education locally and statewide by officially placing their names on SPC buildings.

The new facility, scheduled to open in mid-2015 at the corner of 22nd Street S and 13th Avenue S, will be called the Douglas L. Jamerson Jr. Midtown Center. The three-story building will include classrooms, labs, community space, computer labs, student services areas and a library with a children’s area.

The college’s current facility at 1048 22nd St. S was renamed the Cecil B. Keene, Sr. Student Achievement Center.

1939457_10152608826423368_12299606_nIn his dedication, Board of Trustees Chairman Deveron Gibbons said he had trouble narrowing down his comments “because both of these two men had such an impact on my life.”

“When I think about Mr. Keene,” he said, “what I think about most was his commitment to people and especially to students.”

Mr. Jamerson, he said, was his uncle and his mentor, a man who worked across the state for others. “He was the best legislator of this district I’ve ever seen. He fought with everything he could for St. Petersburg to be a better community.”

The event marked the official beginning of construction on the new Douglas L. Jamerson Midtown Center.

The Rev. Wayne Thompson, before his invocation, said the new building sits next to the spot where he was born, in the former Mercy Hospital. “I was thinking this morning that maybe today I was going to be reborn,” he said. “In many ways, this community is going to be reborn because of this bold initiative by St. Petersburg College and the Board of Trustees.”

SPC President Bill Law said he has been a college president for 25 years. At the end of his career, he said, “When I’m asked what are the five best days you has as a president, this will be one.”

The day was historic, Dr. Law said. “We stand here in celebration in a location that hasn’t always had reason to celebrate.”

1891212_10152608827338368_1189107867_nThe community, he said, “has had to overcome all the constraints of a segregated society. When the legal and societal restraints were removed, Midtown had to find a new center.”

People like Mr. Jamerson, Mr. Keene and Johnnie Ruth Clarke, for whom the adjacent health center is named, always knew that the community was strong and never stopped fighting for it, Dr. Law said. “Our celebration was put in motion years ago by those who could feel the heartbeat of this community.”

Chairman Gibbons recognized past leaders from the college and the city who fought for years to make the Midtown campus a reality, including former board members Terry Brett, Ken Burke, Ken Welch and Dick Johnston; former mayors David Fischer and Rick Baker; and community activist Theresa “Momma Tee” Lassiter.

“You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re at,” he said. “Here we are now – we’re going to have a place of learning. We’re going to have people who can go to college right here on 22nd Street, on the Deuces.”

Mayor Rick Kriseman praised the college for its commitment to Midtown. He said his administration wants to focus on workforce training and employment in the community. “When it comes to workforce training, there’s no better partner for us than St. Petersburg College.”

See photos from the event on the college’s Facebook page.

Watch the event on SPC’s YouTube channel.

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St. Petersburg College Early Childhood Education students, faculty and local professionals will attend an innovative workshop that trains teachers to use active, arts-based experiences to teach preschoolers about science, technology, engineering and math.

Funded by an SPC Innovation Grant, the workshops will have an immediate impact on the children in one local Head Start Center and continue to impact future teachers as SPC begins to implement the new method into their Early Childhood classes as early as this fall.

“We want to make sure everyone is aware of scholarly research on STEM to meet the unique needs of children in their setting,” said Anne Ryan, SPC professor and coordinator of Early Childhood A.S. degree program. “To me this is the incubator. We want to generate new ideas that get children excited to learn.”

Workshop for Professionals

On March 3-7, a Teaching Artist from the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts will spend the week with about 70 3-4 year olds and their teachers at a Tarpon Springs Head Start Center.

In anticipation of the art that these children will develop, highlights from the Wolf Trap program will be displayed at the Leepa-Rattner Museum during the month of September.

Workshop for SPC students and faculty

Students and faculty in SPC’s Early Childhood Education program can also learn about teaching STEM through the arts at a workshop on Thursday, March 6, 6-9 p.m. in the teaching auditorium at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. Contact Anne Ryan to reserve your spot as space is limited. If space is available, the program will also be open to local early childhood professionals seeking continuing education credit.

SPC Early Childhood Education Program

SPC’s Early Childhood Education program serves students currently working in the early childhood field or those preparing for a career. The program is designed to give students a smooth transition from certificate to associate degree to bachelors degree.

“Well meet them where they are in their early childhood career and help them reach their next goal,” said Ryan.

Other Upcoming Early Childhood events

Early Care and Education Conference – Preschool Track
Saturday, April 26, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

SPC Week – Early Childhood Info Sessions
Wednesday, March 5, 4 and 6 p.m.
St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

Related Links

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Dennis JonesA new tradition was established at St. Petersburg College in February with the inaugural Distinguished Public Service Award Dinner. The Feb. 21 event, staged by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at the Seminole Campus, honored former SPC vice president Dennis L. Jones for his 32 years of public service as a state senator, state representative, civic leader and doctor of chiropractic medicine in St. Petersburg.

Nearly 200 people, including 18 current or former public officials and a large number of SPC administrators and staff, filled the Conference Center at Seminole to honor the work of Sen. Jones and to recognize exemplary public service in general. As Dean Susan Demers of SPC’s College of Policy, Ethics and Legal Studies put it in her role as master of ceremonies, the ancient Greeks considered public service to be the highest calling of mankind, and Sen. Jones epitomized that quality in his career and life.

SPC President Bill Law opened the program by recognizing Sen. Jones for his role in funding and creating the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions, which serves as a conduit for civic engagement and academic enrichment within SPC and the community, and also represents all 28 members of the Florida College System in the public policy arena.

In summing up Sen. Jones’ career, speakers focused on the important legislation that he had a major role in passing as well as on his skill at building consensus by working across party lines. A humorous note was provided in a video message by former House Speaker Fred Lippman, who served with Sen. Jones in the Florida House for 20 years. Dr. Lippman, now chancellor at Nova Southeastern University, said that the two of them were responsible for passage of more legislation in that period than any other legislators.

Seminole Provost Jim Olliver enumerated highlights of those legislative successes: mandatory child safety seats and driver/passenger seat belts, organ donor designation on driver licenses, Bright Futures Scholarships, “Rails to Trails” using old railroad corridors, Seminole Indian casino tax compact, state poison control registry and judicial reforms to aid small business. Among major projects affecting SPC, Dr. Olliver credited Sen. Jones for helping to secure funding for the Health Education campus, the Seminole Library and the Bay Pines STEM learning center.

Dr. James Winterstein, President Emeritus of National University of Health Sciences, spoke of Sen. Jones’ role in establishing the University Partnership Center, which includes NUHS’ doctor of chiropractic medicine program. And Kim Black, President of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, offered detailed evidence of his commitment to public education.

Perhaps the most significant legislation credited to Sen. Jones is the Florida Beach and Shore Preservation Act, which created a continuing fund to finance repair of Florida beaches after storm-caused erosion. As Dr. Olliver noted, “Pinellas County especially, but every county in Florida that depends on sandy beaches to nurture its tourism industry, is indebted to him for ensuring that there will be continuing funding to keep those beaches healthy.”

To memorialize that accomplishment, the Institute arranged for a section of public beach in Treasure Island to be planted with sea oats after a June renourishment project is completed. The sea oats plants, which also served as table centerpieces and stage decor, were donated by a sponsor of the dinner, Green Seasons Nursery of Parrish. Students from the SPC chapter of the International City Managers Association have volunteered to help with the planting. Other sponsors were the Tampa Bay Times and National University Health Sciences.

Dr. Law concluded the program by unveiling the Distinguished Public Service Plaque, with Sen. Jones’ name as its first entry. It will be hung in the Conference Center foyer.

The Institute initiated the Distinguished Public Service Award to honor exemplars of the true meaning and purpose of public service — individuals who recognize that public service is a special calling and enter into it for the moral and humanitarian benefits derived from serving their country, state and community. The criteria for nomination are:

  • A distinguished career of public service in elective or appointive office — local, state or national OR a distinguished career serving the public interest in the private sector, either in the nominee’s profession or in a volunteer capacity.
  • An unblemished record of integrity and selflessness in public service.
  • A demonstrated spirit of bipartisanship in seeking solutions to public policy challenges
  • Overall, a career that best exemplifies public service and dedicated effort in keeping with the greatness of the United States of America.

With Dennis L. Jones as the first recipient, the bar is set high for future nominees. Hopefully, his example will inspire younger public servants to strive for his high standards.

For more photos from the event, please visit the Institute’s Facebook page.

Watch the event on the college’s YouTube channel.

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