GreenCorps participant wants to make a difference

Ross Pomeroy with Elk River's GreenStep City award.

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

When Ross Pomeroy was a kid, he used the money he made from recycling pop cans to pay for his Lego sets.

Years later, Pomeroy’s interest in recycling and other “green” activities has launched him on a career path.

Pomeroy has spent the last year serving the city of Elk River through Minnesota GreenCorps. While he has completed all sorts of tasks, he said Project Conserve stands out as the highlight. The award-winning program teaches people simple ways to conserve energy, produce less garbage and reduce their heating, electrical and water bills.

Pomeroy took on a key role in Project Conserve. He did all the communication with the 300 or so participants, sent out newsletters, did data analysis, wrote some of the program presentations and conducted a workshop for participants in April.

Betty Robinson filled out paperwork for Project Conserve last October as Elk River Environmental Administrator Rebecca Haug, Elk River and Ross Pomeroy looked on.

It was all part of Project Conserve Phase II, which wraps up this fall when Project Conserve Phase III gets underway (Click here to learn more about Project Conseve III).

Pomeroy said it’s been nice to get feedback from people who have found Project Conserve to be helpful.

Program emphasizes a sense of service

Pomeroy was one of about 25 people chosen from more than 100 applicants to be a Minnesota GreenCorps participant. Minnesota GreenCorps is a program through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency via AmeriCorps State.

Pomeroy said he likes the program because Americorps instills a sense of service. “I’m doing it to really try and make a difference,” he said.

A native of Mankato, Pomeroy is a 2010 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in zoology and biological aspects of conservation.

Besides working with Project Conserve while in Elk River, Pomeroy expanded and developed an Energy City High 5 program for businesses, which launched June 1. It includes a packet of information with ideas for how businesses can conserve electricity and water and reduce waste and suggestions for employee initiatives.Businesses choosing to participate pick which activities they’d like to do and earn points toward an Energy City High 5 award.

“I think that businesses and people want to conserve energy and do something good for the environment,” Pomeroy said. Energy City High 5 pulls the information together in one place and makes it easy to do, he said.

In the last year Pomeroy also helped with the city’s organics recycling program. He worked on a grant, designed cartoons about organics recycling that appeared in the city’s newsletter and made a mailer for utilities customers.

Another project was GreenStep Cities. Pomeroy did the documentation that enabled Elk River to get the designation of a “Step 2” GreenStep City. Only six other cities in the state have that designation.

He also was very involved in planning for the Energy Expo, which was held in March. And, he worked with preschoolers through the early childhood family development program at Handke in Elk River.

Pomeroy finished up his stint in Elk River on Aug. 23.

He isn’t sure where his career path will lead. He’s already writing four articles a week for a Chicago-based science website,, and will be working this fall as a soccer referee.

He said he’s had a great experience in Elk River and ultimately hopes to land a job in the green sector.

“I believe that living your life efficiently and sustainably is morally the right thing to do,” Pomeroy said. “We have been blessed with so many wonderful things in this life and we should not take them for granted. It doesn’t make sense to live our lives today in a way that could jeopardize tomorrow.”