Two VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America) recently joined the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance in Backus to grow the organization's Community Solar for Community Action and Solar for Schools programs.

The AmeriCorps/VISTA program has been around since 1965, empowering the nation's citizens to dedicate a year in service to communities across the country. The VISTAS serve courtesy of the Initiative Foundation, which has long supported community projects throughout central Minnesota and has partnered with RREAL since 2006 to bring volunteers to area communities.

Rachel Juritsch, from Pennsylvania, will focus on the Solar for Schools Project. Her role is supporting the integration of solar energy into learning opportunities for all students, regardless of income.

Juritsch graduated from the State University of New York: College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a bachelor of science in sustainable energy management. She enjoys fishing, kayaking and exploring the outdoors.

Peter Gebauer, from Florida, will serve as a research and development assistant for the Community Solar for Community Action program. He is passionate about community ownership, environmental justice and sustainable living.

To learn more about these projects and RREAL's work, visit or call 218-587-4753.