Johnson County Community College was awarded an EnergyWorks KC Green Jobs Workforce Development grant from the Mid-America Regional Council.

The $63,700 grant will be used to develop a sustainability hospitality internship option for students in the college’s hospitality management program. Students in the program are required to complete a 360-hour internship in the hospitality industry. The grant will develop additional options for students to consider.

Students would be trained in best practices for saving energy and water, reducing waste through recycling and composting programs, using environmentally friendly cleaners and chemicals and reducing supply chain waste and pollution through the use of local product purchases. They would use that knowledge to work with restaurant and hotel managers to identify how the facility could implement the practices.

Funds from the grant would be used to pay the student interns and would provide the participating restaurants and hotels with up to $5,000 to implement the practices.

Students will track the practices after they’ve been implemented, to identify how much money had been saved through the implementation, according to Ryan Wing, JCCC senior sustainability analyst. That would demonstrate to other restaurants and hotels that sustainable practices are cost-effective, he said.

Ona Ashley, director of the JCCC hospitality management program, and Lindy Robinson, JCCC dean, business, worked with Wing to design the internship.

“This is a great opportunity for both our students and the industry,” Robinson said. “It is so important that we start getting serious about measures that help the environment with a benefit of saving money for the restaurateurs and hoteliers.”

The program is expected to meet the EnergyWorks KC Green Jobs Workforce goals of establishing a green jobs pipeline for the Kansas City metropolitan area, in this case in the hospitality management field, and of increasing building energy efficiency and water conservation practices in the metropolitan area.

“This is a great way of taking an existing program and adding value to it, both in terms of making the restaurants more efficient and giving students added skills,” said Jay Antle, JCCC director, sustainability.

Wing said 10 restaurants have already expressed interest in the green intern program, and it has won the support of the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association.

The green internship program is expected to get under way during the spring semester.