There is a hidden gem teaching in the Environmental Science department at NEC: Josh Cline. I stumbled upon his class, Off Grid Solar, this semester when I was just looking for interesting fillers in my schedule. Of course I added it without reading the course description, and was entirely surprised when I found out that we would be building a solar panel to run the NEC greenhouse.
I initially thought the class was going to be non-hands on and easy, but we were soon working with wires and non-power tools and actually learning how solar panels work from start to finish. Josh taught us how to wire safely and about all the components needed to convert sunlight to energy. In addition, we learned that the angle of the solar panel is the most important part of the entire process, since we want to maximize exposure to the sun. He even brought in batteries from his personal solar panels. Josh explained that when his batteries are no longer usable he loads them into his truck and takes them to get recycled rather than just tossing them on the curb.
Josh has been teaching at NEC as an adjunct professor for many years, but his story starts at home, where he lives an amazing sustainable life in New Hampshire with his wife, daughter, and three alpacas. He said he has exactly three because they are pack animals and you can’t only have two because if one dies, then the other one would be lonely–the third one is the insurance plan. But beyond having amazing pets he has off-the-grid solar panels that run some areas of his home. He even does his laundry with sustainability in mind, doing it in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest and strongest, and therefore using complete solar energy to wash and dry his clothes. And he finds uses for everything; no matter how small or seemingly useless, he finds a way, like making wood paper weights and containers. He showed the class how to make stools without power tools and without wasting any wood.
Josh has worked as the Executive Director of Stonewall Farm in Keene and Executive Director of New Hampshire River Council. He and his wife adopted their daughter from Ethiopia when she was young, and allow her to embrace her Ethiopian culture while also teaching her the culture of New Hampshire.
Josh has taught many courses at NEC, including Is Capitalism Good for the Environment? and New Hampshire Natural History, and is beloved by students. His commitment to sustainability is outstanding, inspiring, and something to aspire to.