Stone Soup Leadership Institute

Sustainable Workforce Development: From a Vision to Action

On February 2, The Stone Soup Leadership Institute hosted its second annual Green Job Shadow Day.  This free one-hour Brown Bag Lunch workshop broadened educators and career counsellors’ exposure to the increasing opportunities in the green economy and give them tools to empower their students for green jobs.

“Educators and guidance counselors are the gatekeepers and the folks who have the most power to influence high school students to pursue sustainable career pathways,” said the Institute’s Founding Director, Marianne Larned.  She welcomed our guest speakers: Galen Ho, President/CEO and co-founder of ImmersiveWorlds LLC and Illai Kenney, co-founder of the HBCU Green Fund who is featured in the Stone Soup for the World: Life-Changing Stories of Young Heroes.

Two teams from the City of Boston joined the Green Job Shadow Day Brown Bag Lunch. The Boston Green Academy’s Dave Kramer and PowerCorpsBOS Davo Jefferson, and Joey Pellegrino joined to learn how they might strengthen their green jobs program that provides young adults with training, career readiness support, and connections to employers in the green industry.

Sustainable Workforce Development: From The Vision to Action

Last October, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healy announced Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer’s far-reaching report, Recommendations of the Climate Chief. This 87-page document has 39 recommendations to meet the state’s ambitious sustainability targets by 2050 and is designed to move the state from planning to action. Embedded in the report is a commitment to implement a comprehensive cross-agency plan for developing a climate-resilient workforce. Growing this workforce to adapt to climate change requires all hands-on deck. By intentionally investing in green job creation, we can address systemic inequalities by offering pathways to economic empowerment for marginalized communities. Green jobs often promote fair wages, safe working conditions, and opportunities for skill development, contributing to the overall well-being of workers and their families. Emphasizing equity in the green job sector ensures that the benefits of environmental sustainability are shared equitably across diverse populations, fostering inclusive economic growth and building stronger, more resilient communities.

The Institute has worked with high school teachers in a variety of disciplines in Massachusetts – and around the world. We’ve discovered that while most educators would like to use innovative tools and curricula that address the climate crisis and offer information about climate solutions, they are bogged down with bureaucratic challenges in gaining access to these curricular materials. The Institute’s 2023 Progress Report on Climate Education showed us how educators are lacking educational tools and training to teach climate education and guide students towards these green jobs. Read report.

We asked ourselves: “How might we make it easier for educators to bring environmental education to their classrooms? What if we could find a way to train future teachers so they could develop the confidence to teach their students about these very important issues and introduce this critically important current issue in their classrooms?

At a time when climate education, teacher training, and workforce development is more important than ever, the Institute rolled out the Stone Soup Climate Education Curriculum so educators worldwide will have access to our digital and printable educational tools and trainings.


Galen Ho offered his experience as a business leader – and emphasized the importance of preparing students for the green jobs and touched upon the rising need for a diverse workforce. “Career pathway information is important especially in the non-college area,” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of careers associated with environmental design and development that don’t necessarily require you to have a college degree: technical people like electricians and mechanics.”​​

Galen is a seasoned Job Shadow Day mentor and speaker.  In 2016, he traveled to Martha’s Vineyard to serve as a mentor to Chris Aring-Sharkovitz – who he encouraged to consider Olin College. Then as an Olin engineering student in 2017, Chris joined Galen to speak at the Institute’s Job Shadow Day. Held at the Boston Museum of Science, the event featured Boston Commissioner Will Morales who was joined by the Boston Mayor’s Youth Council.

A bi-coastal resident of Massachusetts and Hawaii, Galen has witnessed how visionary government leaders must galvanize support for their climate innovations.  In 2015, Hawaii’s Governor Ige boldly set the nation’s first-ever 100% renewable energy goal by 2045.  To respond to this challenge, The Institute, in partnership with Hawaii’s Department of Business Development & Tourism and the Department of Education, created its first online portal ​Sustainable Hawaii Toolkit. Based upon the U.N. Sustainable Development goals, this easy-to-use free curriculum gave teachers the educational tools they needed to inspire their students to learn about sustainable innovations.

Illai Kenney spoke to how accessible sustainable workforce opportunities can be, with a foundation of intention, access to resources, and partnership.  Through the HBCU Green Fund, she works to “advance cultural, financial, and environmental sustainability for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and in the communities they serve.  Climate justice demands transformation of Black colleges into resilience hubs that support innovation, regeneration, and culturally responsive solutions to problems prioritized by vulnerable underserved communities in America and globally.


“What we want to make clear to our students is that it doesn’t necessarily require a lot to be sustainable beyond just the intention and the effort and access to resources,” Illai said. “We found that our students were really excited about completing energy audits and doing data collection for it!”

 “Stone Soup has been an amazing partner,” said Illai. “Being able to use the Stone Soup Climate Education Curriculum, helps us to create opportunity, access and network.”

Nina Potsiadlo, Education Outreach Manager, featured Illai’s story and video on the Stone Soup Climate Education Curriculum as she presented the soft launch of the Innovate! Portal. “Our goal is to make it a one-stop-shop to access resources for climate education, sustainable career pathways with stories, lesson plans, videos, social media and really to build bridges from education to green careers.” The Stone Soup Climate Education Curriculumis here to help teachers and guidance counselors explore sustainable career pathways. As Chief Hoffer said, it’s “Turn key, ready to go!”

Albert Perez, STEM Teacher Trainer, then drilled down into Stone Soup Climate Education Curriculum’s Lesson Plan to show educators how can guide students with the Sustainable Career Pathways. Each of the 100 digital and printable Lesson Plans seamlessly incorporate innovative solutions and sustainable career pathways. He spoke about the exciting opportunities for students with sustainability-oriented certificates – like green building. “If a student might not necessarily plan to go to college” he said. “Or might want to try something out while they’re in high school – as a dual enrollment. They could start looking into what it means to pursue this green building technology certificate.”

“Guidance counselors and the educators today need to proudly say that community colleges are a great resource for building a green workforce,” said Marianne.  “We were impressed to discover that the Bristol Community College had 50 sustainability-oriented certificates.  They are one of the essential components for the transition to a sustainable economy.” The Institute’s Green Job Shadow Day builds on nearly three decades of experience leading Job Shadow Days on Martha’s Vineyard and other marginalized communities in Massachusetts and around the world. In 1994 we developed the very first Job Shadow Day in partnership with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, this one-day event has grown and been adopted by national organizations and U.S. Department of Labor.

Over the years, this one-day experience has made a lasting impact on thousands of young people.

• Exposes young minds to inspiring leaders, opens doors and expands their horizons.

• Helps translate youth passion with practical experience in the job market and the world of work.

• Gives youth a positive experience of the world of work, promote a good work ethic, and develop long-lasting relationships that contribute to the island and global economy. We’ve built bridges and developed partnerships with business, education, community, and government leaders to assist their communities are ready for the transition to a sustainable economy.  We’ve used our educational tools and trainings to empower young people to pursue sustainable career pathways, and to become leaders of a more sustainable world.  In 2019, the Institute hosted a Design-A-Thon at Innovate Newport with leaders from business, government, education and community to imagine how to build a sustainable workforce for the transition to a sustainable economy.

About the Stone Soup Leadership Institute

For over 25 years, Massachusetts has been the Institute’s learning laboratory for our sustainable workforce initiatives. Founded on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in 1997, we’ve expanded our activities to communities across the state and around the world.   We’ve worked alongside sustainability-oriented pioneers, professionals, and practitioners who share their experiences with youth delegates at the Institute’s Sustainability Summits. In our hands-on Sustainability Tours, we’ve visited school gardens, local farms, and aquaculture start-ups; renewable energy programs and electric car-charging stations; clean water management sites, and solar rooftop installations. We’ve learned about cultural sustainability from the Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts, as well as from indigenous peoples from Hawaii and other island nations. Through our programs youth are encouraged to envision their dreams for their lives, their communities, and the world–and to design plans for a more sustainable future.