As a safety specialist for a major wind-energy company, I spend my days at wind farms across Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Maine. My hours are filled conducting climb-harness inspections, answering site-staff questions, performing safety drills, and giving presentations on safety topics at daily crew meetings. And my camera is nearly always with me.
I love to photograph powerful images that tell a story. The image I chose to submit in the 2014 Windpower Engineering & Development photo contest contrasts today’s wind technology with that of the past. It was taken at the Bison Wind Farm in North Dakota. The old windmill was not used to generate electricity, but drew water. It helped North Dakota farmers succeed in a difficult environment by satisfying a basic need. In the background, spins the present wind turbine – meeting the need for sustainable power. Past and present – the two structures make for an amazing landscape that I was happy to capture.
Working in the wind industry didn’t just happen to me. I pursued it. Initially I got a bachelor’s degree in science, but I couldn’t find a job. I was working as an independently taught graphic designer when I saw job postings for wind in the local paper. I was attracted to the idea of working in a developing renewable technology. So I went back to school and earned an associate’s degree focusing on wind energy and turbine technology from Iowa Lakes Community College. With support from Women of Wind Energy, I began working as a wind service technician in 2010 where I gained a deep appreciation for the ingenuity and sheer magnitude of wind technology. After two years as a site technician, I joined the Environmental Health and Safety team.
Why I am proud to be in this field? I am working at the forefront of scientific discovery. As the environment changes, renewable-energy resources will become increasingly important. I’ve met some great men and women in the wind industry who share my desire for a sustainable planet. I count myself lucky to work in a field I enjoy and that is also making a difference.
— Loma Roggenkamp