Notes from the Field: Solar PV Training Brings More Renewable Energy to Pine Ridge

by Claire Burnett, National Program Assistant

solar PV training at Pine Ridge

Our new solar electric array at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center is now installed! Trainees from the Northern Cheyenne Tribe recently joined local Lakota trainees for three days of in-class instruction at our Solar Electric Training, followed by a hands-on installation, learning the ins and outs of solar electric design and installation.

Jeff Tobe with Solar Energy International (SEI) joined us for a second time as a guest instructor, and we received generous equipment donations from SEI, Advanced Energy, and Bella Energy. The install is an addition to our existing solar array, and a precursor to a larger array that will be installed on our new Red Cloud Training Annex early  this summer.

In addition, the training follows a historical coal mine protest on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation that we attended with our fellow trainees and friends, and we had a film crew on site for a documentary focusing on clean sources of energy on tribal lands.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in this training – what a success!

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Notes from the Field: Building the Red Cloud Training Annex

by Megan Maiolo-Heath
Nick, a volunteer from Denver, frames the entrance to the Red Cloud Training Annex.

Our most recent volunteer trip to the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center in Pine Ridge, SD, was a very productive weekend that brought us one step closer to having the Red Cloud Training Annex completed!

Ten volunteers from Colorado spent two full days working on framing the entrance, hanging sheet rock, installing plumbing, and building railings.  When the Training Annex is finished, it will house Native American trainees who come to the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center to learn about a wide variety of renewable energy applications. The facility will have dorms, bathrooms, a full kitchen, classrooms, and a common area for studying.

Demand for the trainings offered by TWP’s Tribal Renewable Energy Program is high as many Native Americans are developing a deeper desire for green jobs and for helping their tribes adopt new renewable energy practices.  This Annex will nearly double the number of trainees and volunteers we can accommodate.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this volunteer weekend a success!

Volunteer Opportunity: Help Build the Red Cloud Training Annex

volunteers at RCREC

To Our Hammer-Savvy Volunteers!

This July, spend a few days helping TWP build the interior walls of our new Training Annex at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Thanks to volunteers like you, the 40′ x 60′ steel building is fully constructed and ready for rooms to be built!

What: Training Annex Walls Construction
Where: Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, Pine Ridge Reservation, SD
When: Whenever you are available, July 1 – July 15
Who: Volunteers with some construction experience/ comfort with a hammer
Why: Take this opportunity to visit the Pine Ridge Reservation and play a critical role in expanding our training program.

Trees, Water & People is looking for 1-3 volunteers to travel to Pine Ridge at a time in order to assist our project lead, Jeremy Foster (TWP board member extroardinaire), in framing the Annex’s interior walls. You heard me right, only 1-3 volunteers at any one time, but you have two weeks to go.

We will give preference to volunteers with previous construction experience. Extra preference given to those of you with tools that you can bring with you. Please also let me know if you have any special skills that will assist us in the construction of these walls. Anyone out there with basic plumbing and/or electric knowledge (expertise not required)?

This trip is for volunteers who enjoy a little adventure! Flexibility is a must on the reservation. You should also be prepared for a lot of fun!


  • TWP will pay for volunteer’s food during their time at Pine Ridge
  • Food purchased by TWP will be vegan (no animal products)
  • TWP cooking equipment and utensils will be available for use
  • Volunteers will be responsible for preparing all their own additional food that they choose to bring


  • All volunteers are responsible for their own transportation and related costs getting to Pine Ridge (although I will be happy to coordinate carpools where it is possible)
  • Our facility is located down a short dirt road; Many sedans have traveled it


  • Volunteers must bring their own camping equipment and will camp on the Red Cloud Renewable Energy campus

To volunteer, you must email TWP’s National Director, Lacey Gaechter, to sign-up. Please email the following information:

  1. Name of all people in volunteer party
  2. Your email address
  3. Your cell phone number
  4. What days you have available to travel to and work in Pine Ridge
  5. Where will you be coming from and returning to (e.g. most people will be coming from Fort Collins, CO)?
  6. What is your previous construction experience/ any areas of specialty?
  7. Any other questions you may have

Once I have confirmed your spot, I will email you directions to the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center and provide you additional details.

I look forward to hearing from you soon! It should be a lot of fun and a lot of hard work.

Kind regards,

Lacey Gaechter