LCOOCC Goes Solar, Supports Boys/Girls Club

Aug 15th, 2009 | By | Category: 21-1: Celebrating Tribal College Journal's 20th Anniversary, Tribal College News

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College (LCOOCC, Hayward, WI) celebrated its new solarelectric system in early spring. The system was received with an Ojibwe blessing, and prayer bags were fastened to each of the four corners of the solar array.

Dan Sullivan, who conducted the “smudging,” was one of the renewable energy program students who helped put together the photovoltaic (PV) system. He said, “We harness this gift to help us in good ways and with good intent. We humbly ask the grandmother whose spirit lives within this energy to direct us back into less destructive ways.”

Other students who worked on the project included Bill Barber, John McCallister, Matt Soulier, Ken Galloway, Jeremy Humphrey, Adam Fear, John Andrews, Elissa DeCora, and Steve Melby.

Last fall, Steve Kozak’s Solar Electric Systems students began the installation of the solar-electric generating system that supplies the main campus operations; it went online in March. The project cost of $26,000 was funded by NASA, AIHEC, and the LCOOCC Ag Endowment.

Kozak, renewable energy faculty member, says the 4.2 kilowatt solarelectric system is now the largest solarelectric system in Sawyer County. “Even though it does not produce enough electrical power to supply all the electrons that LCOOCC needs to be electrically self-sufficient, it nevertheless is a significant down payment toward this end,” he says.

According to Kozak, the solar-electric system is part of a greater vision for sustainably produced renewable energy for the community. “Our desired green energy future includes more PV systems on rooftops of homes and businesses, along with small- and large-scale wind turbines, and small hydro and bio-fueled co-generation facilities distributing their generating surpluses locally,” Kozak says.

In other news, four staff members at the tribal college presented $400 to LCO Boys and Girls Club Director Karen Harden at the youth center in April. The donation resulted from a fundraiser for the local center. LCOOCC President Dr. Danielle Hornett says the staff donation is just one indicator of the college’s close connection to the community.

“The college and the Boys and Girls Club have common ground,” she says. “Part of our mission is to reflect the values and education needs in our tribal communities to ensure a sustainable future, and our youth are our future. We both provide learning environments with opportunities to participate in traditional Ojibwe culture and create supportive, healthy environments where individuals can be successful.”

Jason Sanders, LCOOCC assistant to the academic dean and also a LCO Boys and Girls Club Board member, organized the staff fundraiser. He says “It’s an important relationship for college staff.” He adds, “Everything about the future of the Ojibwe culture rests with our young people, and if we can help, we will.”

Also in April, the City of Hayward Mayor Thomas J. Duffy proclaimed May 18-22, 2009, as LCO Ojibwe Community College Week. The LCO 2009 commencement and feast were held on May 21st.

For more information on the college, contact LCOOCC at (715) 634-4790, x157, or visit For more information on the Boys and Girls Club, call Karen Harden at (715) 634-4030.

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